3D or not 3D, that is the question...at least that was the question posed by AT&T representatives at their Innovation Center in Washington, DC. I had the privilege of attending a presentation where AT&T reps demonstrated 3D printing capabilities. AT&T strives to stay current with the latest technologies and innovations and have partnered with Cubify in order to bring 3D printing to the masses.
The basic process demonstrated is as follows:
2. Import the 3D model file into your 3D printer either wirelessly or via a USB drive and select the correct file from the 3D printer's interface screen.
3. Click GO!
My overall thoughts of 3D printing is that while we are still far away from "The Jetsons" and having a 3D printed cheeseburger materialize on a whim, we are getting closer. Food has been 3D printed including chocolate and pizza--no accounting for how it tastes. :) It will be interesting to see if every house ends up having a 3D printer like a "chicken in every pot" but the industrial and medical applications are limitless. The medical community
has already 3D printed partial faces, limbs, organs, and things like ears. Geeky side note: The ears are pretty cool--3D ear structures are printed and attached to the patient's skull. The patient's own skin/tissue then grows up and around the structure which slowly dissolves leaving a new and natural looking ear in place.
A 3D printer could prove invaluable aboard a spaceship should the crew need to manufacture a replacement part. That ability *could* also translate to the ability to manufacture replacement parts at home--how cool would it be to be able to download a replacement part design from your washing machine maker's website and print it out and fix your washing machine yourself? The possibilities are endless and can involve much more than simply making paperclips, juicers, and combs.