3D printing HOT or not?

Normaal gesproken zijn mijn blogs in het Nederlands, maar gezien de internationale interesse gaan meer en meer artikelen verschijnen in het Engels. Waaronder deze van vandaag.

3D Printing

IT trend watcher Gartner has published the trends for 2014 and one of them is about 3D printing. I will start with a short introduction about what 3D printing is and why is will become such a big trend and what you can do with it.

What is 3D printing?

3D printing is a process of making three-dimensional solid objects from a digital file. The creation of a 3D printed object is achieved using additive processes. In an additive process laying down successive layers of material until the entire object is created creates an object. Each of these layers can be seen as a thinly sliced horizontal cross-section of the eventual object.

How it works

It all starts with making a virtual design of the object you want to create. This virtual design is made using a 3D modeling program. To prepare the digital file created in a 3D modeling program for printing, the software slices the final model into hundreds or thousands of horizontal layers. When this prepared file is uploaded in the 3D printer, the printer creates the object layer by layer. The 3D printer reads every slice and proceeds to create the object blending each layer together with no sign of the layering visible, resulting in one three dimensional object. The great thing is that you do not have to be a designer to make the design yourself. You can buy designs online and print in your home on your personal 3D printer.

Why it is cool or hot?

Today Finnish entrepreneur and designer Janne Kyttanen exhibits at Gallery Vivid in Rotterdam. Janne puts his head on anything. From cork, to football, knife, candleholder, doorknob, basically anything! Today people might think it is narcissistic to put your head on anything. But that isn't also what people said when Facebook started. Remember the objections you had against it - and what is that like today? Think about the Selfie. I think Janne is up to creating a new hype and he inspires people and designers to think beyond the normal path. I think it is going to be so cool to have our own head on anything. To be able to print your own new iPhone cover. Or to print you own brand new shoes or purse for that matter!

Does it serve a need?

3D printing is apart from a lot of fun also very useful for practical matters. Think about that one little screw you need to fix your wardrobe. You can print it in your home instead of having to go to the store. Or think of the option that for instance a car manufacturer can give its clients. You buy a new car and in your home you can print the special elements of your car. So the door panel can be in your own favorite colors and the place on the steering wheel where normally the brand shield sits can be a shield with your own head or logo. It will give the first car manufacturer who enables its clients to do so a very attractive competitive advantage. Think about how attractive the advertisement can be: Buy a car, get a 3D printer (free prize) and create your own perfectly designed car.

The future

Gartner says: "Worldwide shipments of 3D printers are expected to grow 75 percent in 2014 followed by a near doubling of unit shipments in 2015. While very expensive “additive manufacturing” devices have been around for 20 years, the market for devices ranging from $50,000 to $500, and with commensurate material and build capabilities, is nascent yet growing rapidly. The consumer market hype has made organizations aware of the fact 3D printing is a real, viable and cost-effective means to reduce costs through improved designs, streamlined prototyping and short-run manufacturing."

Check-out these cool sites on 3D printing:




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