3D Printing: A Prototype for the Future

in Technology

3D Printer

In the 1985 movie, Weird Science, we were first introduced to the futuristic concept of a three-dimensional prototype by two high school boys creating their “perfect” girl from a doll and a computer. While at the time, this concept may have seemed quite far-fetched, technology has more recently lent itself to an equally amazing and real-life concept: three-dimensional printing.

In the technology and design world, three-dimensional (3D) printing is a strikingly hot topic, an idea that has more recently taken shape, so to speak. Its roots don’t stem from a new concept, yet it was not widely recognized by the mainstream up until the past few years. Now it’s forever changing the face of technology in the medical world and making a splash in the consumer space in the form of prototypical fashions, home goods, toys and other items.

For those who may not be sure how 3D printing works, here’s the lowdown:

Three dimensional printing, also known as desktop fabrication – uses special 3D drafting software that lets the user create a digital concept drawing of their desired object and creates a real-life prototype of said object, using materials like plastic, metal, nylon, wax, and even chocolate (yes, chocolate) and building it layer by layer. Other materials like full-color sandstone can be used to produce just about any color in the rainbow when applied to a 3D object.

The Original Concept

The technology was first developed by Charles Hull in the 1980’s, and is finally being applied to inanimate objects like fashions, home goods, toys and even medical prototypes that can be used to create life-saving prosthetic devices, human-like organ concepts for medical surgeries and astonishingly accurate medical models used to teach med students about the human body.

The process of 3D printing is still fairly new to the fashion world, but it can be used to create fashion-forward, recyclable clothing prototypes that are slated to eliminate the issue of finding a person’s correct clothing size, as items can be molded and shaped to fit a person’s exact dimensions, offering a look that is more tailored to the consumer. 3D printing has also dabbled in other areas such as: working table lamps, jewelry and children’s toys, to name a few.

According to last week’s article in Retailing Today, a few select Staples stores are also implementing the 3D printing experience to consumers in major cities like New York and Los Angeles, helping to bring their personally-designed 3D creations to life.

Appealing to Buyers

Three-dimensional printers can be purchased by consumers, but some come with a hefty price tag. Some models go for $100, up to $6,000+, depending on the printer’s capabilities.

If 3D printing technology continues to advance at its current rapid pace, consumers and members of the medical community should have much to gain with the prototypical innovations likely to pop up over the next few years.

What do you think of 3D printing technology and its advances? We’d love to hear your comments below:

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