Upcoming developments in 3D printers are poised to:
1. Revolutionize the Construction Industry
“Concrete Printing Process developed at Loughborough University in the UK is capable of producing building components with a degree of customisation that has not yet been seen. It could create a new era of architecture that is adapted to the environment and fully integrated with engineering function.” (link via Mark Lewis)
2. Enable the Efficient Creation of Previously Impossible Components
Pictured above: jet engine components printed by GE.
“The 3-D printing techniques won’t just make it more efficient to produce existing parts. They will also make it possible to produce things that weren’t even conceivable before—like parts with complex, scooped-out shapes that minimize weight without sacrificing strength…. The technology could also reduce the need to store parts in inventory, because it’s just as easy to print another part—or an improved version of it—10 years after the first one was made. An automobile manufacturer receiving reports of a failure in a seat belt mechanism could have a reconfigured version on its way to dealers within days.” (link)
3. Be Increasingly Accessible to Students and Desktop Users in 2012
“…starting this year, the United States’ Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency is planning to put 1000 production-quality 3-D printers in high schools across the United States… Even if you don’t have access to one of those machines, you can get a free download of Autodesk 123D, a 3-D computer-aided-design program still in public beta testing, which gives you push-button connections to online 3-D-printing services, of which there are now dozens, if not hundreds. So if you’re not already printing objects on a regular basis, there’s a good chance that in 2012 you will be.” (link)