Is 3-D printing going to become routine?

When people started talking about 3-D printing, I was skeptical. I wasn’t alone – a lot of people were skeptical. But, in a comment on my post back then, MernaMoose was optimistic and was closer to the mark than many pundits on the future of this type of technology. Hats off to the Moose – 3-D printing is starting to look like something rather significant.

At the New York Times Bits blog, Nick Bilton writes:

Will the future be printed in 3-D?

At first glance, looking at past predictions about the future of technology, prognosticators got a whole lot wrong. The Web is a garbage dump of inaccurate guesses about the year 2000, 2010 and beyond. Flying cars, robotic maids and jet packs still are nowhere near a reality.

Yet the prediction that 3-D printers will become a part of our daily lives is happening much sooner than anyone anticipated. These printers can produce objects, even rather intricate ones, by printing thin layer after layer of plastic, metal, ceramics or other materials. And the products they make can be highly customized.

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And the products they make can be highly customized.

Now wait for the next stage to hit, when they can “print” multi-material objects. I’d say that’s still 5-10 years from hitting the mainstream.

Imagine being able to “print” an electric motor in your garage. That capability is even further out, but it’s coming too. At that point you’ll just about be able to buy a 3-D printer, then turn around and print yourself another 3-D printer.

It’s hard to guess how this kind of technology will have changed the world ten years from now.

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