Wednesday, January 22, 2014

3D Printers for the Home

Image Courtesy of NDTV Gadgets

From printing some chocolate to printing a house (see above), the applications of 3D printing are fascinating, and very practical.

Light Fixture Design Courtesy of Dwell

Imagine that beautifully sculpted vase from the hotel lobby or the free-flowing natural form that would look perfect as an art piece in your home. Having those uniquely designed pieces, or at least recreations of those pieces, may be as easy as the touch of a button (if you happen to be the owner of a three-dimensional printer, that is). A 3D printer can replicate that hand thrown pottery or heirloom crystal vase with some amazing technology. The newest wave in home decor may just be the three-dimensional printing.

The Nuts and Bolts
Essentially a three-dimensional printer creates a solid object from a digital model. Layers of material (the type of material depends on what you are printing) are assembled in different shapes and sizes according to the model. To "print" the object, much like a typical 2D printer, the machine will read the design and use a method of "additive manufacturing" to create the object. Additive manufacturing refers to laying down layers of the material used for the printing such as liquid, powder, paper, plastic or some type of sheet material in cross sections. These cross sections are then fused together to create a final shape that resembles the original 3D model.

A Bit of History
Three dimensional printing has been around since the mid-eighties, however after much technological advancing, became widely available on a commercial level early in 2010. Currently being used in the energy, aerospace, automotive and biomedical industries, more practical and perhaps decorative uses are lurking around the corner. The growth in the type of technology has made the printers more cost effective, even for purchase in private households. Some units that used to cost $20,000 can now be purchased for under $1,000.

New Foot for Buttercup the Duck Courtesy of Mashable
How would you use a 3D printer?
Do-it-yourselfers might be particularly pleased by the onset of the new technology. The DIY crafting community might be pleased to learn that a craft workshop in San Francisco used 3D printing technology to create ornaments for the holidays. From making jewelry to crafting toys or more practically for creating replacement parts for broken appliances, the application of a 3D printer in the home could revolutionize the home decor industry.

While the advent of three-dimensional printing could not replace artistic design and age old handmade artisanal beauty, it could make home decorating a bit more cost effective. Perhaps the most affirming application of 3D printing comes with knowing that you don't necessarily have to have well-honed crafting skills to create some well-crafted pieces. The printer will do that.

A three dimensional printed rug? That sounds intriguing.

3D Printed Home Decor Courtesy of Freshome

With Hershey creating a chocolate printer and three-dimensional printing of 2,500 square foot homes in 24 hours, we can't wait to see what is printed next. A new kidney? A Picasso? A new pair of Louboutins? The possibilities are excitingly multi-dimensional.

No comments:

Post a Comment