3-D printing is one of the most exciting technological innovations in recent years, and it’s advancing at a rapid pace. In two recent articles about 3D printing, editor-in-chief of Wired Chris Anderson says 3-D printing has reached an inflection point, and Gizmag’s Doug Hendrie highlights 3-D printing’s huge potential for revolutionizing medical science:
1. Chris Anderson writing in Wired.com:
By all evidence, 3-D printing has reached its inflection point, when it moves from the sophisticated early adopters to people who just want to print something cool. Soon, probably in the next few years, the market will be ready for a mainstream 3-D printer sold by the millions at Walmart and Costco. At that point, the incredible economies of scale that an HP or Epson can bring to bear will kick in. A 3-D printer will cost $99, and everyone will be able to buy one.
Digital fabrication also takes the expensive parts of traditional manufacturing and makes them cheap. In mass production, the more complicated a product is and the more changes you make, the more it costs. But with digital fabrication, it’s the reverse: The traits that are expensive in traditional manufacturing become free. Consider:
Variety is free: It costs no more to make every product different than to make them all the same.
Complexity is free: A minutely detailed product, with many fiddly little components, can be 3-D printed as cheaply as a plain block of plastic.
Flexibility is free: Changing a product after production has started means just changing the instruction code.
2. From Doug Hendrie in Gizmag.com:
3D printing technologies have come a long way since their earliest incarnations as rapid product prototype makers. It’s now shaping up as the next disruptive technology and in medical science, 3D printing has huge potential. The latest advance comes from University of California, San Diego Nanoengineering Professor Shaochen Chen, whose group has demonstrated the ability to print three-dimensional blood vessels in seconds.
If the technique proves scalable, it could revolutionize regenerative medicine. Imagine being able to recover from a heart attack by replacing your faulty aortic valve with a brand new one, made of your own cells. No more pig valves, no more mechanical solutions, no more waiting for a donor. The donor is you.