There has been a lot of buzz recently about how 3D printing is going to revolutionize manufacturing. Artists and designers have taken it by storm creating all sorts of new artefacts which are now appearing in our museums and art galleries. I even heard a guy called Murray Moss this morning on the Strand arts programme talking about 3D printing in terms of Industrial Revolution, 2.0!
He outlined a future cottage industry, where plumbers would have a 3D printer in the back of their white vans so that they could print a replacement in real-time when coming across an unexpected broken part when fixing the plumbing in someone’s house. And he talked about how making clothes will be transformed; people will go to a store and get their body scanned in 3D. Then select a dress or suit from a website and it will be cut to their exact body size and be 3D printed, not sewn.
And soon it will be possible to print out artificial blood vessels that can be used as part of lab made organ transplants. German researchers in tissue engineering are experimenting with 3D printers to make the tiny vessels. People will no longer have to wait for a suitable donor, nor will the general public have to deliberate over the moral dilemma of whether to decline the option of automatically having to donate their kidneys when applying for a driving license.
But it is not just parts and pants that will be spewing forth all over the globe. Some creative researchers at Exeter University have even come up with the idea of using a 3D printer to make chocolate treats – that will print layers of chocolate instead of plastic. It wont be long before anyone can go to a choccie website and design their own box of individual chocolate faces of all the family and pick it up an hour later at their local store for that special Christmas treat.
Mass production of everyday objects will never be the same again.