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3D Printers - Forging our future trends in Print-Manufacturing

Updated on April 19, 2014


“Instead of thinking of going to the store, you say you can make it yourself” – Jennifer Howard (Spokeswoman MakerBot) AFP.

Printing has always been about ink on paper. In the face of the latest innovations, especially in the world of printing, both manufacturers and consumers are already experiencing a paradigm shift in the way they do business.

It is all possible courtesy to 3D printing which has taken a long time to find a place in our day-to-day lives. This was recently demonstrated in Las Vegas in the Consumers Electronics Show.

The goings on in this show seemed to forge our future trends in not only printing, but in many other aspects. This article explores the trend we should expect in 3D printing in the near future.

It even seems odd that we didn’t embrace it sooner than would have been expected to, considering the indisputable fact that we are 3D creations. Print-manufacturing has finally arrived.

Most things in nature and the world at large exist in 3 dimensions. We have and will always remain 3-dimensional creatures. The theory relating to our existence on a flat planet was disputed and trashed in the distant past by early scientists.

The camera and the chalkboard dealt a lot of damage by getting us so used to 2-dimensions (2D) to a point where perceiving three dimensional (3D) things in three dimensional perspective became rather difficult to conceptualize.

We knew everything is 3 dimensional but we found ourselves absorbing it in 2 dimensions first before decoding it into its real 3 dimensional existence. This owes to the fact that most learning is conducted at our earliest opportunity in a two dimensional environment using 2D teaching and learning aids (The chalk board, the TV, movies).

This is where we lost 3D only to embrace it with difficulties in our geometry classes in high school. Many teachers of mathematics will acknowledge the difficulties they go through, when trying to inculcate 3D skills into learners. They release a sigh of relief when pupils finally absorb these skills.

The world of 2-dimensional televisions has been and still remains with us today. It is gradually being replaced by 3D TVs.

Quite a number of movies have been produced in 3D versions and are quickly gaining popularity in theaters (Avatar).

Images have traditionally been stored in two dimensions, a mode that strips a lot of information from whatever is being stored. Imagine our seeing only your front while concealing your side and back while we know at the back of our minds that you are 3D in nature. Holography ensures the 3D aspects of all things is safeguarded.

Thanks to MakerBot (Manufacturers of 3D printers) for introducing three dimensions back into our lives for good, in the most pleasurable and rewarding form.

Picture of the ORDbot Quantum 3D printer


Future trends and printing

Our future was already set and determined by our form, creation, perception and the way we do things. The reality of 3D arrived in entertainment via 3D movies and holographic technologies where a photograph contains information for reproducing a three-dimensional image by holography (my favorite technology), 3D TVs are a common feature today and now, 3D printing seems to be gaining ground pretty fast. There is even promise of change in how we do things.

3D Printing and new manufacturing methods

The recent display of a 3D printer at the Consumers Electronics Show printing toys, spectacle or eye glass frames, shoes, earrings, necklaces, bracelets increased consumer awareness of printing common items at home instead of buying them from the shop.

This enlarges the scope and function of printing far beyond the normal printed word that has been meant for your eyes only, to wearable merchandise. It has literally changed the perspective we have customarily held about printing and manufacturing.

The consumer has practically been converted into a manufacturer of the commodities they would like to use.

MakerBot ThingOMatic


3D Printing and local personalized shopping

3D printing introduces localized customized shopping where the consumer chooses their design, colors, shapes sizes texture and material of the product they want to manufacture at home.

With the capability of simply manufacturing items we need through the 3D printer, are we likely to shop for the same commodities from shops? Of course we will still have to shop for the quality we have traditionally got used to in our local shops.

Some of the goods will have to completely disappear from our shops as we manufacture them at home when need arises. This implies that manufacturers have to change their traditional way of doing things in order to remain relevant to the consumer markets.

3D Printing in surgical procedures of modern medicine

3D printing is currently being used in surgical bone reconstruction as happened recently to a motorcycle crash victim who emerged through the crash totally disfigured and in urgent need for bone reconstruction. Doctors in UK had to borrow the finesse provided by a 3D printer to print a replica of the man’s facial bones in order to restore his face’s symmetry with great success.

Prior to this 3D surgical printing process, doctors had to rely upon guesswork with odd outcomes that were totally detached from a victim’s original bone structure.

This proves how effective 3D printing can replicate a person’s former bone’s contours to restore their looks back to the previous state with mechanical precision. Such printing has enabled modern medicine to register a milestone that was previously hard to come by.

We can now look forward to dental reconstruction with positive results in the world of medicine especially when we consider how a damaged dental formula ruins one’s outlook.

3D printer at work

The future of 3D Printing and its influence on consumerism

The new method of consumption of manufactured goods introduces a shift in the market with regard to what to manufacture and how consumers behave.

The consumer will have adapt to a manufacturer’s line of thought on what materials to be bought, durability, toxicity and malleability. Imagine designing your own earrings, sunglasses, shape of your medicine coated with sugar, prosthetic limbs.

Here is a list of some consumable items we will soon be printing on our 3D printers at home instead of dashing for them at the local shop:

Industries: The construction of prototypes of numerous items prior to manufacturing

Wearable biodegradable plastics: Hats, caps, eyeglasses, eyeglass frames, sunglasses, wigs, masks, earrings, necklaces, bracelets, wrist bands, artificial nails, plastic rings, belts, PVC suits etc.

Medical: medicine prosthetic devices, dentures etc.

Edibles sugar, wheat or corn-based: Sweets, candy, decorative confectioneries and food art, pasta, food supplements etc.

Usable things: 3D invitation, greetings, wedding, birthday and valentine cards, medallions, 3D words etc.

The list is endless. The future may be holding better promises than meets the eye. Apart from printing physical or wearable goods, it seems like we will soon be printing edible consumables like sweets and confectioneries which is already a reality considering the edible ink we use to print writings on cakes.

Serviceable and replaceable 3D Printer Accessories

Some serviceable and replaceable 3D Printer Accessories on eBay include:

3D Printer Filament PLA 1.75mm Makerbot Reprap Printerbot Metre Sample / 1KG Roll @ £18.99

New 3D-Printer filament ABS/PLA 1.75mm/3.00mm 1KG various 15 color for makerbot @ £60.00

3D Printer Controller Control Board RAMPS 1.4 For Reprap MendelPrusa For Arduino @ £6.65

MK2B Dual Power PCB Heat Bed Heatbed Hot Plate f. RepRap Mendel Prusa 3D Printer @ £9.19

1PC 3D Printer 0.4mm Extruder Nozzle Print Head for UP or cube structure #K @ £3.87

F04675 10Pcs 100K OHM NTC Thermistor Resistor NTC-100K for Sensor 3D Printer @ £2.68

Black 3D Printer 2 Extruders Based on MakerBot Replicator + 2 (ABS) filament @ £640.00

1pc 3D Printer 0.3mm Extruder Nozzle Print Head for MK8 Makerbot Replicator #K @ £3.19

3D printer Reprap Bed Glass With Kapton Heated Bed Ready to go set for HOT bed @ £10.99

New 3D Printer Controller for Arduino RAMPS 1.4 REPRAP MENDEL PRUSA @ £8.75

Ramps 1.4 + A4988 + Mega2560 R3 + Endstop + LCD 12864 For RepRap 3D Printer UK @ £129.88


Can you just try to imagine how you will be buying your music through the 3D printer in future?

Imagine using the 3D printer to have your lost limb fitted with a prosthetic limb that is identical to the one you had.

Imagine manufacturing and eating candy, lollipops or bracelets designed for and by your children while seated at the table during their birthday celebrations.

Imagine printing your best photographs in 3D?

Imagine printing and wearing shoes that have never been seen before?

Imagine designing something on your computer and print-manufacturing it at the touch of a button at home.

That is 3D printing in reality.


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