The Future of Technology?
If you’ve seen any of the numerous news stories about 3D printing over the past several months & very recent years, you’ve probably heard about the potential it has to revolutionize some aspects of manufacturing. Sources such as The Harvard Business Review have said that it will change everything from fashion to space travel. When technology-minded individuals hear about something so revolutionary, your first instinct may be to seek out hands-on opportunities to interact with the technology. For those more hesitant to adapt new technology, 3D printing may initially seem complicated or overly confusing. If 3D printing is going to change the world, will everyone need a degree in engineering to operate the associated technology? Even for those of us who grew up using computers, the speed at which technology evolves makes it easy to soon feel left behind.
How Technology Marches on
While it’s certainly the case that 3D printing in 2015 is still best suited for DIY oriented individuals who don’t mind experimenting and solving technical problems, there’s good news as well. As 3D printers are becoming more commercially available to consumers, they’re also becoming more capable & more user friendly. If you’re old enough to remember some of the first personal computers or the early days of the Internet, you probably remember them being limited in functionality and requiring a certain level of interest and patience to take full advantage of. However, companies like Microsoft helped refine that technology for more widespread general consumer use. As a result, the modern computer age was born.
Today, an extraordinary number of people own a computer – whether a classic desktop machine, or in the form of a smartphone, tablet or laptop. 3D printers are largely following the same path. According to 3Ders, a 3D printing industry website, a variety of DIY 3D printer kits cost less than $1,000, can be built by hand, and are simple enough to be used by anyone with a bit of patience. They aren’t as robust as the more expensive machines, but are ideal as an accessible way to learn the technology.
Newcomers to 3D printing will find that there’s already a significant amount of information shared online to help beginners get started. Free 3D modelling software such as Google Sketchup makes it easy to get started, while dozens of resources serve more experience individuals. There are a variety of accessible tutorial videos explaining how to build certain 3D printers, as well as websites offering 3D models for people who have yet to master making their own.
One vision for the future forecasts that every home and business will have a 3D printer, just as most households today have personal computers. By getting a head start today with the latest technology trends, you’ll be ahead of the curve as 3D printing slowly becomes more mainstream.