The explosion of technological growth and advancement during the last few decades has definitely changed our expectations as well as our lifestyle. One of the newest devices to be made available to the public, and potentially produce large changes in our lives, is the 3D printer. This contraption is capable of creating many kinds of objects made with different materials such as plastic, metal and even cooking ingredients. The possibilities that come with this machine have great potential, but like many new developments, the ramifications of its use have not yet been completely realized.
The first version of a 3D printer was actually produced in 1986 and called "stereo lithography," but is has since evolved into today's 3D printer, which has gone through significant changes and is being marketed to individuals. Older versions of these printers were large and bulky, not to mention expensive, and they were also made to be used in large corporations. The current models of 3D printers can be bought for as little as $1,200 and are about the size of a typical printer.
How it Works
These printers start with a design for an object on a computer, which is plugged into the printer so that it can begin creating it. The 3D printer then builds thousands of layers placed on top of each other in order to produce a whole object. It can also make individual parts to a larger object that can be assembled once they are completed.
What this Means
These printers have the potential to change the manufacturing industry by replacing whole assembly lines. The industry could also be transformed by a shift in needs from the public. If these printers become commonplace there would be many items that could be created from home instead of having them transported from factories, to stores and finally the consumer's household.
3D printers could replace items that are no longer sold in stores or make products that are suited to an individual's specific requirements. The only thing you would need is the product design, the printer and the raw materials to produce them. Currently, there are even experiments testing their capabilities as far as the creation of medicine and human organs.
At this time, it is more expensive to produce most items on a 3D printer than it is to buy it at a store. These printers cannot yet provide the polished finish of a factory-produced item and they are limited in the size of their creations and their variety.
Since this is a fairly new technology, people are more focused on what they can achieve with it than on the outcomes of their realizations. There are however, some concerns that have cropped up already. These issues deal mainly with safety and security, and involve the creation of guns and other weapons, as well as products that could cause injury through faulty design.
At this point, 3D printers that are available to most individuals are limited in their capabilities. However, this could change in the next few years and it could set the stage for some major developments and issues that may go along with them. Interested in 3D Printing? Check out this site
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