You’re about to hear a lot about 3D printing if you haven’t already. 3D printing allows you to produce 3D items – anything from silver jewellery to plastic guitars. A 3D printer can even print out your own cast if you sprain your ankle! As the 3D printer enters the consumer market, I wonder if they’ll help reduce waste given the customizability factor or will they just create a whole new way to produce throw-away items that won’t last.
So how does it work? Find all the info after the jump!
First a design needs to be created using animation modeling software. Then the design file is sent to the printer and the user chooses what material will be used to create the three dimensional item. I’ve found 3D printers that can print in medical and stainless steel, sterling silver, bronze and plastic. The printer melts down the material and releases it on the platform below in layers. Thousands of layers later – voila! The process can take hours for small uncomplicated designs like bracelets or days for more complicated items like large architectural models. Check out this video for a demo – Yoda gets printed!
How “green” is 3D printing?
3D printers can print with recycled materials – which is awesome. However the biggest “green” advantage is the opportunity they give consumers to completely by-pass traditional large-scale manufacturing which relies on shipping and often produces significant leftover waste. Of course there’s the potential for consumers to get into the habit of producing needless items on a whim, soon to end up in the trash. Will future 1-800-GOT-JUNK? trucks be filled with forgotten 3D printer projects? For info on the potential environmental impact of 3D printers check out this article from Technews24h.com.
Now, here’s the fun part! The possibilities! Sites like Shapeways.com and Cubify.com offer users the ability to make, buy, and sell products with 3D printing. There is also a lot of excitement around what this means for the medical industry: hearing aids, prosthetic limbs, and check out the first transplant jaw made by a 3D printer here!
This is only the beginning! So what excites/scares you the most about 3D printing? You’d never have to buy a guitar pick again, however your neighbor could be printing a gun. I for one look forward to the day when I can print out the latest tech gadget instead of waiting in line on launch day.
Andrew Sutherland is PR Manager for 1-800-GOT-JUNK? and You Move Me. 1-800-GOT-JUNK? inspired Andrew to live a lighter life and say good-bye to 1/3 of his possessions. Andrew is a mountain man in training who appreciates an awesome view, a good story and organized closets. Connect with Andrew on Google+ or LinkedIn.