3D Printers: For When You Need A New Thumbtack

I have said on this blog many times that 3D is the future. It’s going to change the way we watch movies, play video games, and use our computers. But what about printers? How could printers possible do anything in three different dimensions?

By actually printing three-dimensional objects.

A prediction for the near future: We will all have a desktop 3-D “printer” in our homes and be able to create parts for our cars, computer widgets, and toaster knobs, according to Mark A. Leonard at the 10th annual MassTec conference Friday at Fitchburg State University.

“Well within our lifetime we will all have a 3-D printer in our homes, go online, download a plan, feed it to the printer and make a new part for something we have broken; the technology is advancing that fast,” Mr. Leonard said.

Apparently this kind of technology isn’t just a thing of the future; it’s already happening now. Mr. Leonard tells a story of how a man with an abcessed tooth had two different orthopedic applianced “printed out” and used to treat his problem. As a result, he spent much less time in the operating room than normal.

So what exactly does this mean? Jetsons-like technology where any three-dimensional object can pop out of a printer just like that? Not exactly. Right now, the printers are more specialized, for specific fields like woodwork or design.

If you want more information on 3D printing, here’s the best source you’ll find on the subject: Wikipedia.