3d Printing: Implications for the Future


I’d like to thank Abbey Peschel for giving me a closer look at this subject. Just like in a sci-fi movie, an object can be created on a desktop with a computer design and materials layered on a platform until the model has been ‘printed.’  Wikipedia describes Additive manufacturing or 3D printing  as ‘a process of making a three-dimensional solid object of virtually any shape from a digital model. See this video. I’m fascinated by this idea.

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abbey peschelAbbey Peschel is a Boston-area printing and marketing specialist. Please join her on Twitter https://twitter.com/Abbey_Peschel for the latest on techniques.

As 3D printers continue to lead our culture into the new digitally manufactured future, more and more implications are being speculated. Will they be a household item or a convenient go-to box like an ATM? Will 3D printing be the realm of artists and mass producers alone, or will others pick up the mantle for more humanitarian uses?

Fabricated: The New World of 3D Printing is a new book that explores these questions. Written by Hod Lipson and Melba Kurman, this volume begins by contemplating exactly what place the 3D printer has, how it will change the marketing game, and make promotion of ready-made products vs. those who make them themselves more difficult. Later in the book, they also consider the legal implications of such things. Will copyrights be protected with a digitally burned logo embedded in the digital code? How will we ensure a living for the creative in a right click and copy world? This book explores not only the possibilities of what is possible, but also the spiderweb of piracy that will certainly need to be traversed.

Of course, not all uses for 3D technology is commercial, as President Obama has recently proven. Three new centers for 3D design and development have been sanctioned by the White House: the first two are for the defense department, with the hope of designing and building more complex weaponry, as well as a second center that will try and develop stronger, more lightweight materials to use as components for weapons, armor, etc. The third center is targeted at working on the alternative energy problem, creating lighter, more efficient technologies to reduce our fossil fuel dependence at a cost and efficiency that makes fiscal sense for all Americans. Obama seems to be considering farther-reaching implications, however– he has mentioned more than once the situation that is caused by our trade deficit with China and the decline of the American manufacturing industry. Having a technology such as this that makes manufacturing and direct marketing easy and cost-effective to do at home may be the next economic game-changer in the worldwide struggle for power.

What new possibilities will this technology open for us next? Have we stretched our imaginations far enough to see the world in ten years? Perhaps. However, as creative minds build new, game-changing designs, the stakes will certainly change once again. What will this mean for all of us? Certainly one wild ride.

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3D has obvious applications for manufacturing and science, but what about artists, gamers, and other creative folks like authors. How would you use 3D printing? Marketing? Creating objects from your story? Modeling characters? If you have some ideas, please post in the comment section below. You can also post comments and questions for Abbey who will check in for a few days.

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