3D printing has had a longer history than many people would expect, about 30 years, but it is only relatively recently that 3D printing has become widely available and become a more versatile tool. Currently, it is used in medicine to create artificial body parts, like heart valves, and used to create models of health problems, so that surgeons can be better prepared for complicated surgeries. It is used to aide in product design, by creating prototypes which provide businesses with tangible ideas of what a design could be. As it takes a darker turn, it can also be used by individuals to produce things they normally wouldn’t have access to, even in their own home, such as guns.
While all the potential of 3D printing has been realised over the last few years, it has still yet to reach the point where people expect this area of technological development could end up taking us. We look at science fiction movies and TV shows which have advanced technology, where 3D printers are capable of producing working complex systems at the push of a button, or even produce a gourmet quality meal within seconds. While this is all still a long way off, the technology has developed by leaps and bounds over the last few decades, taking what was once a clunky, slow and very limited machine, which was both expensive to make and operate, and turning it into something which has real versatility, works quickly, can be bought by people for under £5,000, and operate for relatively small running costs.
The true potential of 3D printing is that it has the potential to make pretty much everything. This has the potential to have an impact on industry not felt since the industrial revolution, but it also means that accessibility to the creation of a wide range of products can increase massively over the next few decades. People could buy their own 3D printers and make virtually any product that they wanted, including phones, car parts, children’s toys, and anything else really.