3D Printing Goes Mainstream

Although the basic technology for 3D printing has been around since the 1980s, only recently has it advanced past strictly prototype usage to more diverse applications. Industry uses such as automotive and medical spring readily to mind, but architects and engineers can utilize 3D printing for maps and blueprints in lieu of creating laborious scale models and retail applications include custom applications (think jewelry, home decor, fashion, toys) as well as replacement parts for those uses.

In order for 3D printing to reach the projected value of $30B+ by 2022, there are three areas where the technology will need to advance: printers/printing methods, software (both for design and to print), and materials used in printing. Even with these improvements, the main performance keys will remain print speed and ease of use.

Over Christmas break last year, I signed my son up to attend a Minecraft camp offered by a local computer repair site. In addition to an entire day spent playing video games with friends and eating pizza for lunch, the sold out camp included a now-cherished 3D Minecraft character. Through the wonder of crowdfunding, desktop 3D printers can be purchased starting at $100. You can even buy smaller 3D printing pens for the same amount. If you’re at a loss for ideas of what to create with this technology, check out these practical and useful recommendations, from drawer pulls and hooks to piggy banks and soap dishes.

Tomorrow’s advancements will be made by those on the forefront of today’s 3D printing applications. Although many of us might not even be able to wrap our heads around the concept of 3D printing being a reality, today’s younger generations will grow up taking for granted the real-world applications of this amazing technology. If you’re an e-commerce merchant selling 3D printers or any of the supporting printing materials, FDC can save you time and money on order fulfillment.