Technology has been advancing at an accelerating clip for some time, but one of the most exciting and potentially world-changing flavors of technology has been getting more and more sophisticated just outside the spotlight.
Three dimensional printing, additive manufacturing, micro-manufacturing, whatever you choose to call it, is a process by which a digital design can be turned into a real-world object. Most people would conclude this is a process likely reserved for manufacturing companies, but the truth is 3D printers are available for home use and becoming more and more popular.
Here are some reasons the average home may find a 3D printer both useful and valuable.
Build It Yourself
It really wasn’t all that long ago the average homeowner would construct everyday necessities instead of buying them at a big-box retailer. A 3D printer makes that a reality once again. Everyday objects, especially ones that were formerly disposable, can be constructed in the home for a minimal cost in materials and digital blueprints. Over the course of a year, a fully-utilized 3D printer, especially one priced for the home, would likely pay for itself several times over.
If you find you are good at making certain kinds of tools, accessories or replacement parts, you may end up learning the phrase “micro-manufacturing” isn’t just a buzzword. If you can make spare parts for your appliances, fixtures, furniture and even vehicles, it won’t be long before your neighbors realize your printer makes you a source for just about anything they need. And since you might beat the costs associated with buying retail, that could turn into a nice side income, especially if you can expand your business beyond your street.
It goes without saying that children will take to the idea of making their own toys like a duck takes to a pond. More important than that however is the benefit of teaching the concept of making things. Lost in modern society for the most part is the natural human inclination to invent, build and utilize on a personal level. These are the kinds of skills that lead to more sophisticated concepts like self-sufficiency, independence, confidence and self-reliance, which are also in short supply.
Learning to use 3D modeling software will give your family a healthy appreciation for digital technology, and the synthesis of all the skills you develop as a result of the trial and error process of getting all the pieces to work together will lead to a wide variety of benefits including enhanced math skills, a better understanding of mechanical and physical processes and the satisfaction of being able to point to an object or mechanism and say “we made that.”
The world has been on the cusp of a renaissance in self-expression, artistic endeavor, manufacturing and the associated surge in economic benefits for decades. The foundational institutions that made the 20th century possible are giving way to an exciting future where powerful tools are at home in the hands of an individual rather than a highly capitalized business. 3D printing is one of the fulcrums upon which this new economy will be balanced, and those who take advantage of it will reap the rewards.