And so a new era has begun. 3D printing is set to radically change the way we consume merchandise in future. Remember a time when printing photos at home was such a big deal? How commonplace it has since become. In the not too distant future, we might feel the same about 3D printing. It’s an unstoppable technological evolution that we have to embrace, if only because it’s just so darn cool. And if you’re not chuffed about the possible applications of such a technology, you’re simply not thinking big enough because the possibilities are endless. Here are a few ways to incorporate 3D printing into your life. Ready, get set… print.
So this isn’t an excuse to pickle your liver in the liquor of your choice, but you needn’t worry too much about the one you have eventually giving out on you. In future, printing new ‘spare parts’ may be as easy as popping a champagne bottle. Bioprinting companies like Organovo are already printing blood vessels, skin, kidneys, and even a replica of a beating human heart.
The Good: Not only will we be able to prolong and enhance our lives by replacing faulty organs and limbs with new ones, we’ll also be earning karma points by eradicating the need for animal testing since medical researchers will be able test drugs on bioprinted human tissues instead of animals.
The Bad: Living longer also means prolonging our stay in the workforce to save up for a bigger retirement fund. Bummer.
PIMP YOUR RIDE
Now that road-ready 3D-printed cars like Kor Ecologic’s Urbee 2 and Local Motors’ Strati have hit the tarmac, it’s only a matter of time before we’ll be able to walk into a car dealership and, well, print our rides. The electric open-top two-seater Strati, which took just 44 hours to print (Urbee 2 took over 100 days), boasts 49 parts (the average car has about 5,000), including its 3D-printed carbon fibre body, and may soon be commonplace on the roads. The American-based company plans to start commercial production by the end of this year.
The Good: Customising your dream car will be as easy as A, B, click.
The Bad: 3D printers consume hundreds of times more electricity than traditional manufacturing methods. Guess who ends up paying for that surplus?
SHRINK YOUR MORTGAGE
Home is where you print it. Not content with printing 10 houses in under 24 hours (each costs about US$5,000), China company WinSun has taken the technology to new heights with the world’s tallest 3D-printed building. The five-storey apartment block, which is on display at Suzhou Industrial Park, is made from a mixture of glass fibre, steel, cement and recycled construction waste. So it’s not the prettiest looking stack of concrete on the block, but it sure is a sign of things to come.
The Good: Affordable housing for low-income families can be created faster than ever before.
The Bad: Hello, concrete jungle, goodbye nature.
WOO THE LADIES
Why order take-out when you can simply print your breakfast/lunch/dinner? Yup, TV dinners will never be the same again with food printers like the Foodini. Simply select your grub and watch as pizzas, hamburgers, cookies, pies and lasagnes materialise layer by layer before your eyes. Of course, the food printer doesn’t actually cook your meal for you (you still have to pop it into the microwave oven), but it makes messy prep work like rolling out your own dough a cinch. For the sweet tooth, there are also 3D printers like Chocedge, one of the first chocolate-exclusive 3D printers, that let you create 3D treats out of chocolate.
The Good: Impressing your date just got a whole lot easier for the cooking-averse.
The Bad: It’s not exactly health food. After all, it’s really just processed food with a spiffier Jetsons-esque update.
SET THE TREND
Trust the folks in the fashion world to jump on this bandwagon. Whether it’s flashy accessories like jewellery, high heels or swimwear like the N12, the world's first ready-to-wear printed bikini, there are already products available on the market for fashion-forward techies. And it’s no wonder. The potential of 3D printing in the creative industry is huge. With specially tailored software that can compute an individual’s body measurements, designers can instantly create bespoke collections guaranteed to fit like a glove. It’s not one size fits all so you needn’t feel bad about not being a size 0.
The Good: People of the future will dress infinitely better with their 3D made-to-measure wardrobes that take less time and effort to produce. Well, that’s the theory, anyway.
The Bad: With clothes made to fit, you really don’t have an excuse not to look your sharpest at all times.
PLAY WITH IT
Whether it’s boys’ toys, mundane everyday household thingamajigs or something as refined as musical instruments, if you can think it, you can print it. As you’re reading this, 3D printers would have already popped out funky iPhone cases, flutes, acoustic guitars and even camera lenses. Android fans can order customised Bugdroid collectibles at 3D printing company Cubify (http://cubify.com/) to add to their toy collection. And in an ironic turn, someone has even printed a functional old-school heddle loom for weaving fabric. Why? Well, why not?
The Good: With a little imagination, you’ll never run out of new playthings.
The Bad: Things lose their intrinsic value when replacing them is as simple as clicking a button.
Tech and culture find a unique symbiosis in the creative realm of 3D printing. With a little digital sleight of hand, ideas that would’ve otherwise been confined to a two-dimensional plane come to life in true form as modern sculptures in the hands of esteemed 3D printing designers like Joshua Harker (www.joshharker.com), who has created works like the Anatomica di Revolutis Sculptural out of polyamide, a combination of nylon and glass fused together with a laser.
The Good: Anyone can be an artist.
The Bad: Anyone can be an artist.
BE THE PERFECT HOST
What do you do with a 3D printed house? Why, you decorate it with 3D printed décor, of course. The range of home products available includes decorative pieces like clocks, art works and tableware. Even domestic goddess du jour Martha Stewart has jumped into the fray with her own line of 3D-printed kitchenware. Her Trellis collection includes coasters, napkin rings, LED candle holders and place card holders in her signature colour palette (Lemon Drop, Robin’s Egg and Jadeite).
The Good: Not enough cutleries for a dinner party? Bored of looking at the same old painting day in and day out? Just hit ‘print’.
The Bad: It’s still questionable just how safe the material used to print items like utensils really is for consumption. Fortunately, steps are being taken to produce non-toxic filament exactly for that purpose.
Why make do with a 2D print-out of your unborn child when you can create a 3D souvenir of him/her for posterity? For a fee of about US$1,300, Fasotec and Hiroo Ladies clinic in Japan will scan and print a likeness of your bub in the womb using a special technology called BioTexture. For parents of older children, there is now an option to turn your tykes’ creative doodles into 4-inch 3D sculptures for 99 Euros ( http://crayoncreatures.com/).
The Good: Instead of buying toys for your little ones, simply print what they draw.
The Bad: Running out of shelf space to display your child’s creativity in 3D.
Okay, so this where we run into the dark side of 3D printing. While 3D printing opens up a whole new frontier for us, it also exposes us to the more unsavoury aspects of society. In 2013, blueprints for the first fully printable gun, The Liberator, were posted online and downloaded over 100,000 times before they were taken down. Of course by then the damage had already been done. The DIY community and digital gunsmiths have since gone on to develop and refine their own variations of printable guns.
The Good: We’re drawing a blank here.
The Bad: We’re all for innovation but putting guns in the hands of civilians triggers a whole lot of warning bells.
By Evan Law / February 3 , 2015 10:15AM GMT+8
Tags: Tech Storm, TechStorm, TV, Entrepreneurship, Technology, Innovation, 3D Printer, Mechanical, BioPrinting, Car, House, Food, Fashion, Toys, Plane, Airplane, Cups, Utensils, Party, Host, Babies, Guns, Protection
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10 ANSON ROAD #10-11