What is 3D Printing?
Additive manufacturing, stereolithography, or 3D printing is a process of making three dimensional solid objects from a digital model. 3D printing is achieved using an additive process, where successive layers of material are laid down in different shapes. Uses CAD files (computer aided design) and “slices” them into digital cross-sections for the machine to successively use as a guideline for printing.
The Future of 3D Printing
-3D printing becomes industrial strength
Once reserved for prototypes and toys, 3D printing will become industrial strength. You will
take a flight on an airliner that includes 3D-printed components, making it lighter and more fuel
efficient. In fact, there are aircrafts that already contain some 3D-printed components.
-3D printing starts saving lives
3D-printed medical implants will improve the quality of life of someone close to you. Because
3D printing allows products to be custom-matched to an exact body shape, it is being used today for making better titanium bone implants, prosthetic limbs and orthodontic devices.
-Customization becomes the norm
You will buy a product, customized to your exact specifications, which is 3D-printed and
delivered to your doorstep. Innovative companies will use 3D printing technologies to give
themselves a competitive advantage by offering customization at the same price as their
competitor’s standard products.
-Product innovation is faster
Everything from new car models to better home appliances will be designed more rapidly,
bringing innovation to you faster. Because rapid prototyping using 3D printers reduces the time
to turn a concept into a production-ready design, it allows designers to focus on the function of
-New companies develop innovative business models built on 3D printing
You will invest in a 3D printing company’s IPO. Start-up companies will flourish as a generation
of innovators, hackers and “makers” take advantage of the capabilities of 3D printing to create
new products or deliver services to the burgeoning 3D printer market.
-3D print shops open at the mall
3D print shops will begin to appear, at first servicing local markets with high-quality 3D printing
services. Initially designed to service rapid-prototyping and other niche capabilities, these shops
will branch into the consumer marketplace.
-Heated debates on who owns the rights emerge.
As manufacturers and designers start to grapple with the prospect of their copyrighted designs
being replicated easily on 3D printers, there will be high-profile test cases over the intellectual
property of physical object designs. Just like file-sharing sites shook the music industry because
they made it easy to copy and share music, the ability to easily copy, share, modify and print 3D
objects will ignite a new wave of intellectual property issues.
-New products with magical properties will tantalize us.
New products – that can only be created on 3D printers – will combine new materials, nano
scale and printed electronics to exhibit features that seem magical compared to today’s
manufactured products. These printed products will be desirable and have distinct competitive
-New machines grace the factory floor.
Expect to see 3D printing machines appearing in factories. Already some niche components
are produced more economically on 3D printers, but this is only on a small scale. Many
manufacturers will begin experimenting with 3D printing for applications outside of
-“Look what I made!”
Your children will bring home 3D printed projects from school. Digital literacy – including
Web and app development, electronics, collaboration and 3D design – will be supported by 3D
printers in schools.
Dreambox: The Redbox of 3D Printing
Dreambox was created by co-founders David Pastewka, Ricard Berwick and Will Drevno,
who all met in a mobile application development class and competition at the University of
California, Berkeley. Frustrated by their lack of accessible, on-campus 3D printing options
and the two- to four-week lead time for online 3D printing services, the trio came up with
the idea for a more ubiquitous option called dream box. Think of red box but for 3d printing.
Users can also upload designs via a USB stick at the machine. If they don’t have their own
3D models, customers can select one from a catalog of designs or use one of the many
apps that help customize a model. Once an item is selected for printing, it’s sent to the
nearest Dreambox and added to the queue. Upon completion, the object is automatically
removed from the build surface and dispensed into a private locker within the machine.
The customer is then alerted via text that their creation is ready for pick-up. The text also
includes a unique code to open the locker.