Very interesting example of how 3D printing is edging its way into the mainstream – Hollywood begins to print its special effects models
An article in the Daily Mail announces that the file sharing site The Pirate Bay has now begun to offer bootleg download of 3D objects.
This might be the beginning of a huge headache for manufacturers. Example: Once 3D printing evolves to every aspect of mainstream manufacturing, the likes of, say Nike, are going to pull back labour intensive manufacturing from the factories of the Far East, and design trainers that can be printed. And if they can be printed they can be pirated.
The Daily Mail article quotes copyright experts who maintain that if this takes off, then everything goes off the window.
The boundless efficiencies in manufacturing and delivery that 3D printing might offer might contain within them the single biggest threat manufacturing faces in the coming decades. A phenomenon that first hit the music industry, then the news industry, and now the book publishing industry could pervade nearly every aspect of consumerism.
However, Stuart Miles, CEO of Pocket-lint.com, suggested to the MailOnline that the idea of 3D counterfeiting gwas ‘not even worth thinking about.He said:
‘At the moment you can print things like chess pieces and fun things for your desk. However, printing a pair of trainers could be 20 or 30 years away and by then manufacturers will be able to work around it.’
There is a very exciting new vista opening up, one that offers the ability to create 3 dimensional digital designs or scan objects, and print a solid 3 d rendering from the comfort of your own home.
As computers and the internet revolutionised the ways in which we manage information and communicate, the likelihood is that personal manufacturing is about to be the next big thing.
This technology is emerging from several decades of being the preserve of boffins and laboratories, and is taking tentative steps into the mainstream – this is evidenced by the recent interest shown by mainstream media, such as The Economist. They recently featured the technology in this article .
There are several ways that 3D printing is effected – one being a process whereby the product is created by printing layers; the other by which the product is extruded; and the other (and probable long term winner) involves a process in which the product is formed by laying down layers of powder which are then fused together by a laser – this is quite an exciting option as it can create objects from a wide variety of materials, including plastics, glass, ceramics, steel and silver.
These are pioneering days, and we are still some way off the day where we can print from our own desktops; however when this day does arrive, we should have the ability to select products online, purchase them, and download the code to our printer; alternatively we can design or scan our own objects and print them. Before the technology reaches the point where it is a feature of every home, it will probably be superseded by a specialist retail printing service that may well be a feature of every high street.
This will surely bring manufacturing home to first World economies – why import the spanners or spare engine parts for a car when they can be printed on the high street?
In fact, the posibilities that arise from the mainstreaming of 3D printing are unlimited – Nasa has used a 3D printer to print parts on The International Space Station, and there are aspirations to some day print every component of a building, and even print human organs by using 3 D bioprinters.