The future of 3D printing includes advances in the application of the technology, a wider spectrum of 3D printed products and a drop in the price of the 3D printers.
More of the same but better…
Up to now 3D printers have mostly been used to produce prototypes and pre-production moulds but the future of 3D printing technology will see products being made for the end-user. This is called Direct Digital Manufacturing and although it already exists in some fields, in the future will see an explosion in this area. 3D printers will be used to "print" human organs; food products; vehicles; military applications; construction industry and in fact the sky is the limit!
Personal 3D Printing of the Future
Eventually 3D printer manufacturers would like to see a 3D printer in every home. Already rudimentary machines of this kind are available but costly; by the end of 2015 they should cost only a few hundred dollars. As we move into the future desk top 3D printers will be able to print in multiple materials and create functional products for office and home. Small businesses and individuals will be able to produce one-off items at will.
Industrial 3D Printing of the Future
Modern manufacturing will be revolutionized, factories may become obsolete as the need for machine tools and assembly lines are no longer necessary. Large manufacturers will rethink their production strategies to include 3D printing.
The range of raw materials, which we can use in 3D printers as the “ink” will grow and thus the scope of what a 3D printer can do, will increase. Already in China houses are being made using 3D printer technology. This trend will go on to be sophisticated so that the building industry is impacted significantly. The change in production methods will no doubt impact the workforce and type of products we see in the market.
3D Bio-Printing in the Future
The future of medicine will see drugs being printed by 3D printers and human replacement organs printed using living cells and DNA as the "ink." Research and development in this area is already underway and will eventually save many lives and revolutionize healthcare.
The Future of 3D Printing
- Lower cost of the 3D printers themselves
- Lower production costs
- A wider range of raw materials that can be used as "ink" in the 3D printers.
- The 3D printers will be an everyday hospital tool for "growing" replacement body parts from living cells.
- Mass industrial production will employ 3D printers as well as being a tool for individual personal needs in the home and office.
Whether it is in the home, office, hospital, school or on the battlefield the applications for 3D printers will grow. 3D printers will create the second digital revolution, bridging the gap between the virtual world of cyberspace and the physical world.