3D Printing: The Future of Manufacturing?
3D printing technology has been available for more than a decade, but has primarily remained a tool used to make prototypes for engineers and designers, until recently. The process of 3D printing allows for the replication of real objects without the process of molding or traditional manufacturing.
The printing machines work by adding layers of material to create an object, rather than cutting away from a larger component. This additive process requires less raw material and because the printers are linked with computer data, the individualization of each object can be easily manipulated.
The possibilities for 3D printing are vast and exciting for any industry and have already produced a wide range of objects such as medical implants, engine parts, shoes, jewelry and other highly intricate forms not possible to fabricate with traditional manufacturing tools. As 3D printing technology becomes more advanced and readily available, the potentials of production and creativity become boundless.
In 2011 a group of five innovators, based in Tokyo and New York, formed a “creative lab” called PARTY. The group focuses on the idea that “new creations are born from new creative processes.” The first exhibition by PARTY, Omote 3D Shashinkan, opened in November 2012 and took a new spin on an old idea: portraiture. The idea behind the exhibition was to create a pop-up store with a photo booth, which allowed consumers to go home with a 3D portrait in the form of a miniature figurine.
At the photo booth, photographs for the portraits are first taken with a 3D body scanner. The data from the scanner is then analyzed by computer software and made into full color miniature figurines in three varying sizes. With the success of the exhibition, PARTY has decided to now focus on the commercialization of the 3D pop-up store worldwide and to establish the idea as a permanent business.
With 3D printing technology moving forward into the realm of consumerism, a new wave of 3D printers are being made available for domestic use. One company in particular, Fab@Home, boasts the slogan “Make Anything” and claims that 3D printing will change the way we live. The idea is that personal manufacturing will allow people to make customized objects on-demand.
At home 3D printers will give the consumer the ability to think of a desirable object, customize it, and then print it. The affects of this new technology will be immense and may change the manufacturing industry as we know it. What would you make if you had this technology at your disposal?
by Alora Tishok
Gloobbi Technology Representative based in Paris