In The Sydney Morning Herald Technology, on 22nd April 2013, Omar L. Gallaga declared in the title of his report that The future is printed in 3D: see http://www.smh.com.au/technology/technology-news/the-future-is-printed-in-3d-20130417-2i0bv.html adding: The 3D-printing revolution is set to change our lives.
It is an interesting overview of where the world is with 3-D printing. The text gives a link to a site that has many illustrations of what this printing can do: see Thingiverse.com It is simply astonishing. The matter of copyright and forgery is brought to the fore as never before. Antiques and artworks can be reproducted perfectly.
The article finishes with an outline of the impact of this technology on the architect:
Clay Shortall, the founder of Austin's Shortall Architectural Design, echoes some of the tinkering troubles that Goodwin expressed. He has a 3D printer called a Replicator 2 from MakerBot that he's played around with at home.
"They're really cool and fun to play with," Shortall says, the kind of technology you want to show off to guests when they come over, he says.
"It's a fun party trick. It's the new thing."
But Shortall has got more use from the Replicator 2 by testing out models for much larger projects that will eventually be printed on large, industrial machines out of materials such as limestone or granite. For $25 or so, he can print a smaller version of, say, a home or a skate park he's helping design.
Shortall, who also teaches at the University of Texas, has found it a useful educational tool. It's one thing to model something virtually on a computer; it's another to test out the structural soundness of a physical model you can hold in your hands.
He says it can save students time to have a 3D-printed object created in a few hours rather than building the same object by hand.
"We haven't figured out all the nuances of it yet," he says. He imagines that before the technology can go mainstream, many more people will have to find ways to make 3D printing useful and incorporate it into their lives in time-saving ways.
How long will that be? If I had to guess, I'd say that within two or three years, as the hardware and software improves, more early adopters will want to experiment with printers and 3D scanners. Perhaps in five years, we'll see idiot-proof 3D printers for just a few hundred dollars, ready for your home.
3D printing may look different and come in a different kind of box by then, but it's a safe bet that one way or another, it's in our future.
While the technology might be something like a fun game at present, one has to consider what the future might be. In these circumstances, one is always reminded of the statement on the newly invented electric guitar - that it would take decades for it to achieve its native status in the music world. New things seem to entertain and distract us. Once we overcome this intrigue, we are then able to concentrate on outcomes that truly use the intrinsic characteristics of the technology creatively rather than as a distracting, 'interesting' aside where difference is highlighted only to enhance the cleverness of the technological possibilities, or that of the maker.
Shortly after posting this text, the evening news reported on the development of 3D printing in medicine. A future was envisaged where bones could be printed to order to suit requirements, and, if living tissue could survive the 'ink jet' process, living body parts could also be made to specification. The whole world might become printed! One is left wondering what might not be able to be reproduced rather than the other way around!
Some days later:
A gun is printed:
Thursday 9 May 2013 08.00 BST
3D-printed guns: expert warns of threat to user
A printed gun is fired:
English.news.cn 2013-05-11 08:44:13
World's first 3D-printed gun brings new concerns over gun control in U.S.
Xinhua | English.news.cn
A short time after:
and again, a couple of days later - the heart of the matter: