There has been plenty of talk in the science and tech world about 3D printing and how it could be the biggest technical game changer the world has ever seen. Until recently, the talk has mostly been about cutting edge research using equipment that costs six figure sums. But at last, the technology is becoming affordable for home use too.
This year has seen the greatest choice yet in 3D printers for domestic use, and they are set to become the next must-have gadget that no home should be without. Let’s take a look at what all the fuss is about and whether a 3D printer is the one thing that is missing from your home.
A little background
3D printing is the popular name for additive manufacturing. It uses a layering technique to build up solid models from a medium known as a filament – typically a plastic composite. The underlying technology is nothing new, having first been invented in the 1980s, but it is only in recent years that it has really started to develop into a viable manufacturing method.
It is important to remember that the technology is still in its infancy, but the implications for its use in everything from human organ replacement to national security mean that serious money is being ploughed into research and development, and it is evolving at a rapid rate.
The possibilities that 3D printing brings to manufacturing are obvious, but why might you want one in your home?
Right now, the most common amateur uses of 3D printers are for making fairly simple trinkets such as paper clips, juicers, coasters and so on. Some might argue that it is less hassle to simply order them online or buy them from your local store, but the factor that makes 3D printing such an intriguing option is that you can customise your articles exactly as you want them.
You might ask who wants a customised paper clip, but this is failing to see the big picture. If you can create customised stationery, then why not jewellery, household ornaments and so on? As the technology evolves, the potential to create anything and everything to our own specification becomes a viable option.
A worthy investment?
You can now buy your own 3D printer and get change from £500. With the unlimited creative opportunities that 3D printing brings, it is fair to assume that 3D printers will soon be as ubiquitous in UK homes as 2D inkjet printers.