Posted: Fri 13th Dec 2013
The world of print is becoming more revolutionary than anyone could have imagined. 3D printing, or 'additive manufacturing', has broken into the mainstream, and it is now possible for any enthusiast to get their hands on a printer for less than Â£1,000.
From small desktop printers for the home or office, to printing rigs large enough to make apartment blocks, 3D printing is affecting the way many businesses operate within many different sectors.
In the world of medicine, prosthetics are advancing at an astonishing rate with bespoke replacement body parts being produced in a matter of days. Certain transplants are therefore becoming much faster and more effective, and designer supplements and medicines are said to be the next big thing. NASA is also planning to send a 3D printer into space, creating the perfect 'every tool' for astronauts which will drastically reduce the need to take so much into space to ensure all eventualities are covered.
So what does this mean for businesses? 3D printing seems to translate across all mediums and lots of companies have started using it to create bespoke products. Manufacturers are now able to cut transportation costs by creating the exact parts they need on-site, with new materials making products lighter and more suited to the need, unencumbered by manufacturing limitations of previous years. Streamlining the supply chain is not just cheaper and faster for businesses, but also much friendlier to the environment.
Small businesses, entrepreneurs and professionals based in the office are also able to reap the benefits of 3D printing. The worldwide market is being opened up to even the smallest of companies, and 3D printing is standing at the forefront of this movement.
But does the introduction of 3D printers into the marketplace deserve to be heralded as the second industrial revolution? It is true that engineers and designers are now able to conceive an object or part and have a printed prototype quicker than ever before. There are printing rigs in existence that will create a working mechanical device with no need for assembly, ready to go hot off the press. Trial and error are all accelerated for faster end results "" just keep altering your plans until the prototype works.
With the implementation and application of 3D printing we could be looking at a future of inventors and innovators, more entrepreneurs and exciting new business ventures with improved accessibility for everyone. I'd like to think we are looking at a much brighter future thanks to the world of print.
Nick Green is founder of printed.com