Print our own furniture?

On: October 20, 2010
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About Mares Kahrel
Hi I'm Mares! I just finished my study Media & Culture and started my New Media Master. I've always worked in bars, but I decided to do something else and started an internship at an advertising company called QI. I work there as a content manager. I thought it would be good get some relevant work experience, before I get my degree and have to find a job in 'The Digital Media World'. Besides working and studying I spend as much time as possible with my friends. I'm trying to find the right balance between work, study, friends, travels, dancing, sports and going out, which sometimes makes me want to have 40 hour days so I wouldn't have to deal with the shortage of time ;). But I guess we all do sometimes.....

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After reading an article on the Dutch Cowgirl site, about 3D printing, I wonder what the potential of this device is in the future.
Wouldn’t it be great to have a 3D printer that will be able to print everything you need? You’ll have a factory of our own and make customized products yourself. The only thing you would need to do is to design or download a model from the Internet and press play. You could make your own clothes and recycle them the day after! Like these shoes, terribly ugly but might be the future.

If this would be our future, our whole economy will change. The production and distribution chains and some industries we know today, will become useless.
Although current prices don’t allow us to buy 3d printers, that doesn’t say anything about the future. Like most technology, these prices will decline. But besides the affordability for consumers, would we want to buy it?

One big benefit is that we won’t rely on manufacturing companies to build the product. Also there will be endless opportunities and lots of instant gratification.
Still, I consider this scenario one big fantasy. We won’t be able to find a balance in time, money, convenience, and quality. After all, a wide variety of products we might consider producing ourselves are available in stores for less expensive prices. So, instead of spending a lot of time on producing your product, you might as well get it at the store. Another major obstacle are materials. Today’s products contain plastic, metal, glass, wood, printed circuit boards, wiring and LCD displays. But what if we’d want to make a lamp, TV remote control, audio speaker or can opener. The chance that a single, low-cost device could produce these products is very small.

I understand why it seems the perfect gadget, but doubt if this fantasy will ever become real.

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3 Responses to “Print our own furniture?”
  • October 20, 2010 at 10:39 pm

    There are already 3D printers out there that allow you to rapidly prototype many of the objects you mention and more. You should check out what the FabLabs are doing (http://cabfablab.nl/). And also lots of future talk and research around enabling 3D printing for medical purposes such as body parts and organs.

  • October 20, 2010 at 10:41 pm

    Yes I’ve heard. but I do believe the 3d printing will only be used by professionals, and not in the comfort of our own homes. Don’t you?

  • October 20, 2010 at 10:51 pm

    I think it’s definitely heading to the direction of our homes, much like we have paper printers today, and the beginning of these is one like the open source Makerbot printer. Check out this Boing Boing piece: http://bit.ly/dlWQA8

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