3D Printing : Hype vs Reality


3D printing technology has existed for over 30 years but it has developed rapidly in the last few years. In the past, however, 3D printing was expensive and only used by manufacturing companies. Now, the technology has become affordable and commonplace to the point where people have 3D printers in their homes and businesses.

Many have expected to revolutionize modern life rapidly, but that belief might come more from hype than reality.

3D Printing Applications

Tech companies promote 3D printers as devices with endless potential, and for good reason. You can create just about anything using the additive processes of 3D printing. Theoretically, you only need the right design and a printer that can use the right materials for your project.

3D printing is also known as additive manufacturing and works by adding layers of a certain material to create the desired object. 3D printers use filaments which are mostly plastic but can be of many other materials such as metal, biomaterials, and even food.

In the recent years, the prices of 3D printers have become more affordable. The entry level models can be bought for around $150. Even though the quality of output with these kinds of printers is usually quite low, they are great for people who are just starting out with 3D printing technology.

The number of people who have recognized the benefits of 3D printing is rapidly rising. Many of them already own a 3D printer in their homes. This means they can print various everyday objects, useful spare parts or just use them for fun.

To design the objects, some knowledge of 3D modeling software is desirable but with sites like Thingiverse, even beginners can easily print various models with the help of readily available files.

More expensive 3D printers are capable of producing high-quality objects and are more suitable for businesses who can use them to create their own products or offer 3D printing services.

The 3D printing technology has already revolutionized many industries. The medical industry, for example, has seen many applications of the technology. Medical uses of 3D printing include the construction of prosthetic devices, replacement bones and simple organs such as noses and ears.

Researchers have even managed to print living stem cells and are hoping that one day the technology will enable them to produce living replacement organs. Fully functional 3D printed organs will make transplants more accessible as well as easier and safer than ever before.

Still, the technology has a long way to evolve before it can make life-changing treatments possible. 

3D Printing Limitations

Despite its possibilities, 3D printing, like many other modern technologies, has its disadvantages. The high-quality printers still cost a lot and require expensive materials to create first-class outputs. Even in consumer models, maintenance requirements limit the amount of time a printer can stay in production. 

Advancements in technology have accelerated the speed of 3D printing, but they still operate slowly as they produce more complicated objects. Progress in the development of new materials for 3D printers has shown promise, but their limited availability continues to restrict their potential. 

It seems that people quickly got carried away with their expectations of 3D printing technology. For some, 3D printers promised to give everyone a way to create everything they need. Despite its versatility, 3D printing technology might never give individuals the ability to customize all their possessions.

The 3D printing technology has yet to mature, but you can still expect it to do amazing things both now and in the future. The power of the new technology means that it will impact practically every industry as manufacturing brings mass customizations to market and medicine brings treatments that no one ever could have predicted. 

Soon, 3D printing innovations will speed the availability of new manufacturing and medicine-related processes that will revolutionize life in the future. However, you might have to wait a decade or longer to see the current hype become reality.

Final Thoughts

If you are interested in 3D printing you should carefully evaluate all that you learn about 3D printers right now. Consumer models still seem limited, especially when compared to the experimental models that researchers now use. Still, you can expect to enjoy unprecedented flexibility when you use a 3D printer in your home or for your business. 

Lisa Michaels

Lisa Michaels

Freelance Writer & Editor
She is a freelance writer, editor and a striving content marketing consultant from Portland. Being self-employed, she does her best to stay on top of the current trends in the business world. She spends her free time trying out new recipes or reading Scandinavian crime novels.
Lisa Michaels

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