A 3D Printing and Scanning Revolution is on the Horizon
Maker Bot 3D Printing
CNN's Laurie Segal explains 3D Printing
The Future is Here!
3D Printing is not yet at the sophistication of the "Replicator" from the sci-fi show "Star Trek", but has begun a new trend. The level of interest in 3D printers is similar to the level of interest back when home computers first appeared on the horizon.
3D Printing works by following digital instructions to print an object one thin layer at a time over and over again until the object is complete. At the moment this takes a bit of time to complete, depending on the materials used and the complexity of the object being created.
At this time 3D printers are limited to using certain materials to create physical objects. Currently as of February 2015, 3D printers can print with the following materials and maybe a few others not noted here. I'm sure this list will continue to grow as the technology advances.
1. Plastic and Polymers - From plastic toys, polystyrene foam, and hard plastic tools to bioploymers such as proteins and may eventually be able to print living DNA itself.
2. Glass - all types of glass materials from window glass to drinking glasses, etc.
3. Metal - Car parts, gears and many types of machine parts. NASA is using a 3D printer aboard the Space Shuttle to print needed supplies and parts while in orbit.
4. Human and living tissue - Human limbs and organs, the medical applications are very exciting as we will eventually be able to buy new body parts as we need them at a fraction of current costs within 10 to 25 years. 3D printers are replicating animal organs for study without actually have to kill the animals. I imagine they will only need to kill one to dissect it and then copy its organs for study. I've heard this has already been done, but not sure when and where.
5. Wax - many wax applications are available to reproduce.
6. Edible food - replicated food of many types are already being produced and holds much promise for the future.
7. Ceramics - ceramic bowels, vases, decorations, etc. are being printed for many purposes.
8. Rubber - all types of rubber parts are being printed. One day we may be printing our own car and bicycle tires, rubber gaskets and plumbing supplies.
As you can see the applications of this technology are endless and we are just now on the horizon of this new and fantastic science. The implications of 3D scanning and printing are very exciting and at this time, we can only imagine where this will lead. I am very excited to be alive at this moment in time to witness all the incredible advances that have come along in my life. In my life I have seen computers come into the home and then the internet when it was only used by a few people. Two years ago I was the guy who said I am not smart enough to own a smart phone. My wife pestered me until I bought an iPhone for each of us. I love my iPhone and have not it down since. Now comes the 3D printing revolution and this will change life as we know maybe more than anything has to date. Just imagining the possibilities is mind staggering.
The future is here my friends. Home Depot is already selling 3D printers as a market study test in a few locations around the country. The printers and scanners are becoming less expensive as the technology improves.
3D printed gun
The implications are astounding
As you can imagine the implications of this new science are astounding and will change the world we live in. It is now possible to buy a 3D printer for under $500 and a digital scanner to use with your computer also for about $500. You can use it to build anything that you can scan digital instructions for the printer to use. There is now a 3D scanner for your iPad available on the market. With this device you simply scan the object and then feed the digital instructions into your 3D printer. Just like taking a photo or recording a movie, you can create a digital image of anything you want. Your limitations are the materials your printer uses to print along with the size and capabilities of your 3D printer. The impact this will have on our world we can only imagine.
The gun in this photo was printed on a 3D printer. The parts were printed and then the gun was assembled. There are obviously both positive and negative aspects to this science, as with everything else. Law enforcement is aware of this possibility and needs to prepare for it. It has come to pass that outlawing guns will soon be a moot point, as anyone who wanted could just print one.
3D Scanning to make digital images
Digital Scanning and the Holodeck
As stated above, you can now buy a portable digital scanner for your iPad and scan anything you want and then print it. From toys to tools to artistic representations of even human faces. Once you have the digital image, you feed that information into your 3D printer and physically create it.
In the same way could you not use this digital image to project a holographic image onto a digital field or room to interact with, like the "Holodeck" from the popular TV show "Star Trek"? It appears this may soon become a reality for us? I would have thought that the holodeck would have been invented first, long before the invention of a replicator. But, it didn't come about that way in the real world. Maybe because there is more of a need for a 3D printer than for an advanced and expensive new type of entertainment system? It appears the digital scanner could be used easily for both applications, when we have the holographic technology to apply it in that way. Within our lifetimes we may see holodecks in use and maybe even have them in our own homes? The speed technology moves forward is head spinning.
3D Printing CES 2015
3D print a house
We are on the horizon of a brand new world. As much as the car, electricity and the internet changed the world we live in, this new science may change our lives even more? Imagine a day when your car breaks and needs a new part, but its very expensive and difficult to find. No worries you just make a digital scan of the broken part and use your 3D printer to create a new operating part to fix your car. Guess what, this is already possible today if you own a scanner and printer. Now imagine you are diagnosed with a fatal disease because one of your vital body organs is not operating properly. You're in luck, you purchase a digital scan from a medical company that provides it and print a new organ for your doctor to transplant into your body giving you back your health. These two scenarios are not only possible today, they have both been successfully accomplished within the last year.
In the near future we may live longer because we can easily replace our body parts. How long until we are printing new life forms, such as a rabbit or a chicken? This brings a whole new myriad of moral and philosophical questions to this technology and sounds a bit like the movie "Blade Runner". How far do we dare take it? I say if we can accomplish it and it is moral and has positive value, the human race must go for it!
Another aspect of digital images is entertainment, as I touched on above. Imagine you come home from work and step into your digital holodeck and you are standing on Mars looking back at the earth and our moon. How long until this scenario is a reality? We already have the holographic technology, it just has not yet been applied in this way. Will it ever be possible to actually interact with holographic images and feel the wind and dust blowing through your hair on Mars without actually being there? Once again, the future is upon us.
Scanning and Printing
What do you want?
Would you like to own and play with a 3D scanner and 3D printer?
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© 2015 Randy Hirneisen