What do NASA, Harvard Medical Center and Joe the Plumber all have in common? They have all entered into the latest technology craze to hit the planet since the internet. Relying solely on instant gratification from the virtual tapping of a keyboard is a thing of the past. If you can dream it, you can now turn any dream into a reality by literally printing whatever your mind can conjure up.
Evolving at lightning speed, the race is on to create better, faster, smarter 3D printers. Proliferating around the globe the 3D printing companies have come a long way from the early inception of a rudimentary solution powered by open source software and design.
The ability to print everything from prosthetic limbs to architectural models and artist renderings is revolutionizing the way we conceive, design and manufacture. For instance, Architects and Real Estate developers typically spend tens of thousands of dollars to design and build models for their clients. The process is long, often taking many months to complete. With 3D printing, those same models can now be completed within days and the cost is cut dramatically. The process is simple. The architect creates the blueprint, the 3D designer takes the blue print and converts it to a file which is uploaded to a 3D printer and the print is created within days.
The same is true whether it is the creation of teeth or limbs, car parts, aerospace parts, plumbing parts, engineering parts, artwork or jewelry. They can all now literally be printed using materials that are durable, temperature and water resistant and pliable. Companies are working vigorously to discover new materials that will be used in outer space, hospital labs, for mechanical engineering and in countless other facilities.
The possibilities are endless and nothing has come close to revolutionizing the world of manufacturing, marketing and communication since the early days of the web. On September 21 - 22, 2013 the Maker Fair in New York brought hundreds of 3D designers, engineers, and inventors together to share their know-how and promote their products. Visitors interested in this exploding technology exceeded tens of thousands from all walks of life. If the enthusiastic reception the exhibitors received is any indication of the future of 3D printing, we are in for an exciting ride.