When you first heard the words “3D printer,” what did you think? I wondered just what exactly a 3D printer was. Why were so many people raving about them? What did a 3D printer do, how did it work? I just couldn’t visualize it, and I wanted to learn more.
Learning that the letters from a home printer actually sit slightly on top of the surface of the page and that if you printed over that a few thousand times, eventually the ink would build up enough layers on top of each other to create a solid 3D model of each letter helped me to understand the concept of 3D printing. The 3D printing process works in a similar same way, building a whole object from the bottom-up, layer by layer. Those tiny layers stick together to form a solid object.
3D printers can make everyday things by using different materials, and all from the same machine. With a 3D printer, pretty much anything can be made. Clothes, plastic toys, metal products, musical instruments, stoneware vases, fancy wedding cakes, or possibly someday soon, even human body parts.
The opportunities of 3D printing are endless. Looking for a broken part that is no longer sold and can’t be replaced? Simply print it. Need to personalize a product for size, name, or color? Simply print it. 3D printing is an emerging technology. People will most likely be skeptical about needing one until everyone has got one… Eventually, prices will come down and 3D printer capabilities will improve over time and then consumers will wonder how they ever managed without them.