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Surprising Science

How 3D Printing Will Change Your Life

3D printers have moved quickly from the industrial scale to home use but, despite futurists' claims to the contrary, they are not quite ready to make you a tea, earl gray, hot. 

What’s the Latest Development?

3D printing technology has progressed rapidly in the last twenty years but is the next industrial revolution really on the horizon? Perhaps not in the same way some futurists would wish. Currently, at-home 3D printers are limited to making objects from a kind of plastic called acrylonitrile butadiene styrene. Most useful devices contain at least two kinds of material and currently, only industrial 3D printers are up to that task. But even when it comes to mass production, industrial printers make simple objects like plastic cell phone covers. 

What’s the Big Idea?

The mistake futurists make in their assessment that at-home 3D printers will revolutionize our consumption habits (by allowing every household to print their own everything), is that Moore’s Law, which has allowed the power of electric computational devices to double about every 18 months, does not apply to the advance of physical products. “It’s a point of frustration among industry insiders that the public expects 3D printers to perform like Star Trek’s replicators: All you have to do is say, ‘Tea, Earl Grey, hot’.”

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