What used to be science fiction stuff has now become a reality. Rapid prototyping, which enables designers and manufacturers to create 3D scale models of parts or assemblies using so-called additive technology, is set to revolutionize various aspects of everyday life. Søren Petersen, resident engineering and design researcher for Huffington Post, has this to say about the fast evolving technology:
It appears that for the immediate future, Rapid Prototyping will be used for creating personalized and hard to replace objects such as heirlooms, sculptures, puzzles and other toys, jewelry, custom fitted eyewear, home decoration fix-it-parts, missing chess pieces, IKEA parts and LEGO blocks.
In less accessible places, like the developing world, war zones or outer space, first-aid/medical devices and other critical tools could be printed on location and on demand.
When it comes to users actually designing their own products, computer aided design tools continue to be time-consuming to learn. Intellectual Property rights and safety-issues may also be a hurdle for the democratization of design. However, downloading 3D files or scanning and copying existing designs will afford them new possibilities.
Indeed, quite a number of diverse professionals such as toy designers, jewelers, architects, and archaeologists rely on the 3D printing expertise of companies like Objex Unlimited that can deliver high-quality product prototypes within days as opposed to weeks or even months. Despite the potential for rapid prototyping, the average consumer is likely unaware of the benefits this technology can bring. In countries like Canada, where various industries have started reaping the benefits of 3D printing in Mississauga, there is still a lot of work to do as far as making people aware of its possible impact in everyday living.
For now, companies from the architectural, manufacturing, and medical industries, to name a few, utilize additive technology quite extensively to cut down production time, increase productivity, and generate bigger savings. Some say that once 3D printing in Ontario catches on and becomes available on a larger scale, households everywhere may soon be equipped with 3D-printed utensils and kitchenware, among many other items. While such a scenario remains to be seen, ongoing developments in rapid prototyping as well as 3D printing and scanning can only further strengthen the groundwork for more revolutionary approaches to product design and manufacturing.
(Article Excerpt and Image from The Future of Rapid Prototyping, Huffington Post, November 18, 2013)