If you’ve heard of 3D printing technology and you’ve been rolling your eyes or are thinking that it’s too good to be true, you may want to reconsider. Remember when the idea of personal computers first came out in the late 1970′s on a commercial level, many people were also very skeptical. Many people were turned off by the huge cost of these personal computer kits. Other people were just not very convinced that the computer sitting on your desktop can do all these wonderful things. Fast forward to today and a typical desktop computer can do all sorts of things from processing all sorts of information to designing all sorts of 3D animation and everything in between. It’s a no brainer that if you need a heavy data manipulation and all sorts of number crunching that you only need to get the right software and the right computer. Well, the same dynamics is in play when it comes to 3D printing. 3D printing is a very exciting future technology. Imagine this for a second, you have a design in your mind and you use your computer to write out that design. However, you don’t have a factory, you don’t have a lot money to spend on prototyping that design. Two things can happen, either you save up the money or you find the money and you get that design prototype so you can manufacture that design. Alternatively, you can turn to this machine called “3D Printer” and it would make a prototype of your design. For the longest time, the second alternative was simply either too expensive or just didn’t exist. Well, thanks to 3D printing technology, manufacturers can now come up with a design and prototype it without having to spend an arm and a leg. This is the promise of 3D printing. It takes designs that you come up with in your mind or you scan using a 3D scanner and then it would layer on plastic materials to create a model of that design. If this sounds like science fiction, it isn’t.
There are many 3D printer companies existing currently. However, they haven’t had the breakthrough product that Apple computers had in the late 70′s. Apple’s main innovation is that it brought the PC revolution to peoples homes. Of course, the first Apples were quite expensive and thankfully, when it comes to 3D printing technology, it’s not that expensive. Remember back when the apple 2 and early personal computers launched, a typical unit costed over 2000 to 3000 dollars. Well, there is a 3D printer called MakerBot that costs less than 2000 dollars and a newer better one for $2199. Any of them might be the 3D printer version of the Apple 2. Being very effective, they works well and they’re both priced at around 2000 dollars.
The key to the game when it comes to technology innovation is just to get the technology out there and test the market. Once there’s a huge popular demand for this kind of technology, the next step is to manufacture it overseas so it becomes cheaper and cheaper. If MakerBot and other similar companies are able to open people’s minds regarding what they can do with 3D printing, it’s anyone’s guess how much 3D printing units will cost one year, two years, three years down the road. More importantly, its anyone’s guess how popular 3D printing will be in the near future. This is definitely an exciting technology trend.