Is 3D printing the key to Utopia?

14. May 2012

Date: 14-05-2012
Source: The Observer

The ‘magic’ of digital manufacturing could transform our homes and the industries that serve them. But at what cost?
 Magic trick: a 3D printer makes a plastic rabbit. Photograph: David Neff

You know the problem: the dishwasher that has cleaned your dishes faithfully for 15 years suddenly stops working. You call out a repairman who identifies the problem: the filter unit has finally given up the ghost. “Ah,” you say, much relieved, “can you fit a new one?” At which point the chap shakes his head sorrowfully. No can do, he explains. The company that made the machine was taken over years ago by another outfit and they no longer supply spares for your ancient machine.

Up until now, this story would have had a predictable ending in which you sorrowfully junked your trusty dishwasher and bought a new one. But there’s an emerging technology that could change that. It’s called three-dimensional printing. Read the rest of this entry »