3-D Printing: End of Our Throw-Away Culture?

Advancements in 3D printing technology are revolutionizing consumption and manufacturing. Instead of throwing broken items away, fix them by printing a croudsourced spare part!

What's the Latest Development?

Recent advances in 3D printing technology have made commercial-quality printers affordable to the public for the first time. And the design software needed to create objects has become more user friendly. Instead of throwing away a coffeemaker, for example, because its knob is broken, simply design a new one or croudsource one that has been created by the online 3D printing community. If the trend continues, manufacturing will one day turn on specialized products designed by people in your local community.

What's the Big Idea?

The concept of 3D printing, originally known as rapid prototyping by companies that could afford the once-exclusive technology, allows individuals to design and manufacture their own products. Today, small and medium size companies can make quick and inexpensive prototypes, test them and scale production if desired. Manufacturing material is also undergoing a revolution as 3D hardware makers search for ways to use recycled household plastics as the printers' "paper and ink".

Photo credit: Shutterstock.com

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