Yes, 3D printing will change the world

Writing for the AFP, Helen Rowe notes that 3D printing is predicted to transform our lives in the coming decades as dramatically as the Internet did before it.

“I have no doubt it is going to change the world,” researcher James Craddock told Rowe at the two-day 3D Printshow in Paris which wrapped up this past weekend.

Meanwhile, conference attendee Cosmo Wenman described how he has used thousands of photographs taken in some of the world’s biggest museums to produce exact plastic copies using 3D printing technology – including the ancient Greek statue Venus de Milo housed in the Louvre.

“If you look at the small print at museums in terms of taking photographs, they say that you cannot put them to commercial use,” he explained. “But from a practical point of view that is not enforceable and for antiquities there is no intellectual property issue.”

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Similarly, Jim Kor told Rowe he used 3D printing tech to design and manufacture a car out of plastic and stainless steel. Dubbed the 3D Urbee, the futuristic three-wheeler is primarily electric, but still capable of running on gasoline at higher speeds.

“We want it to be the Volkswagen Beetle for the next century, low cost and long-lasting too,” he said. “It should last 30-plus years. Our goal is that it should be 100 percent recyclable.”

As we’ve previously discussed on Bits & Pieces, the DIY Maker Movement has been using Atmel-powered 3D printers like MakerBot and RepRap for some time now. However, 3D printing recently entered a new and important stage in a number of spaces including the medical spherearchitectural arenascience lab and even on the battlefield.

Indeed, the meteoric rise of 3D printing has paved the way for a new generation of Internet entrepreneurs, Makers and do-it-yourself (DIY) manufacturers. So it comes as little surprise that the lucrative 3D printing industry remains on track to be worth a staggering $3 billion by 2016 – and $8.41 billion by 2020.

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