What is the Future of 3D Printing?

Have you ever wondered how 3D printing works?

In very simplified terms, 3D printers add layers upon layers until a 3D form is created. The process is often referred to as additive manufacturing because machines add material as opposed to taking it away as in cutting or drilling material to create a product.

What once was used to create 3D prototypes for industrial products is quickly becoming something that can be done in-home and for any item. All you need is the right equipment – 3D printer, smartphone or digital camera and materials. Cubify is just $1300; 3D images can be scanned into the software or users can create products via already installed 3D files “designed by professional artists.”

In June, Mashable’s Lorenzo Franceschi-Bicchierai wrote about software engineer, Travis Lerol, printing a handgun using the machine. Below is a tutorial from Cubify on how to create a 3D prototype using its software and printer.

2009 'Fashionista' necklace by Dutch jewellery designer and conceptual artist Ted Noten. 3D-printed glassfiber-filled nylon.

2009 ‘Fashionista’ necklace by Dutch jewellery designer and conceptual artist Ted Noten. 3D-printed glassfiber-filled nylon.

But 3D printing is in its infancy. The applications for this technology are limitless. Recently, Princeton University researchers were able to create a bionic ear via 3D technology. The material used was “silicone mixed with bovine cells and infused with tiny silver particles that form a coiled antenna. That antenna can pick up radio signals that the ear will interpret as sound.”

So, what’s the future of 3D Printing? My prediction: Graphic Artists and illustrators will be central to the creation process.

I predict 3D graphic art and designs will be an established segment of graphic design and printing with designers selling their art online, which can then be downloaded and created on an inexpensive (five years away?) 3D printer.

You heard it here first.

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