A 3D printer in every home?

3d printing service at homeThe reaction that many have to the idea of having a 3D printer at home is that they would have no use for it as they don’t have the skills or knowledge to create 3D CAD files to print on it. Unlike with 2D printing where you only need basic skills to create a text document or even a leaflet using a 3D printing service needs a 3D CAD file. This is missing the point though, for a start you often print graphics or photos on a 2D printer that you haven’t created but have been sent or have downloaded from the internet. Also with a photo you have just pressed a button to take a digital image, if 3D scanner technology catches up with 3D printing services then it should be possible to scan 3D objects that you want to copy in a similar way, this could include making scaled down 3D models of friends and family: in other words a 3D photo.

What some futurists are suggesting though is that 3D printing services in the home will actually replace manufacturing in large part; it may take a leap to get to this from where 3D printing is now, and this may be some way off, but there seems little reason why at least a large proportion of manufacturing couldn’t be done at home or at least with a local 3D printing service. You will of course still need to buy the rights to print a product and how licenses would be controlled and how copyright and other IP would be protected seems difficult to predict. The theory though is that you would choose a product online, download the file and send it to your 3D printer. Limitations might be with products made of certain materials, more complicated products and the size of items you would be able to print on what would probably be a desktop sized printer. The first two issues though aren’t3D Printing Service ProJet 1000 insurmountable and increasingly complicated items with moving parts and even circuit boards are being made using 3D printing services and increasing numbers of different materials can be 3D printed even including some metals, glass and ceramics.

As for the size of items you could print parts and assemble some items or you could of course go to a local 3D printing service, as you would do now with 2D printing services if you needed an A1 size poster printed.

As with many technologies though the limitations on what people predict actually coming about is adoption and whether most people want something or it will remain a niche. While hobbyists may enjoy printing their own products other people may prefer to just go to a store or order online and the costs of printing at home would have to be as cheap or cheaper. Currently people could download and print a book on a home printer but few do as it is still cheaper generally to go to a bookstore either online or offline.

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