If you haven't heard about or spent anytime investigating 3D printers, you have got to read on, as it is exciting. This method of printing has been around for a couple of decades, but now it is poised to take over nearly every industry, such as: manufacturing, medical, plastic surgery, jewelry and even appliances. It's no longer about predicting just how far-reaching this technology will take us, because clearly, it's time has come. Even astronauts are experimenting with 3D equipment to create tools and food on the spot, for use in space.
Imagine coming up with the newest, hottest, big idea and instead of spending thousands to have a prototype made, you walk in to your local Fed Ex/Kinko's and within a couple of hours, you walk out with a finished piece. You don't love it? Simple. You make slight changes in the design, walk it back into Kinko's and within a reasonable time and cost you once again have your prototype.
Or perhaps you have a great design for the engagement ring of her dreams? You draw up the idea, go to your local 3D jeweler and in no time, you have the ring in hand and are ready to pop the big question. What might take months or possibly up to a year in collaboration with a jeweler, can now be accomplished in weeks or even days, depending on the complexity.
Various shapes and sizes of the new 3D printers are being purchased by everyone around the world and it's clear that within the next decade we may all own one. It's been suggested that in the future, we will be making anything we need in our homes with our very own printers, such as refrigerators and tools. All we will have to do is buy the pre-engineered design and the appropriate printing materials. Of course, it may still require the help of an engineer. However, our guess is some company will soon invent the most simple design software that will allow a drag and drop element, thus eliminating the need for a professional.
Did you know there are companies who are printing human body parts already? In San Diego, California, Organovo is printing arteries and sending them to hospitals around the country. There are so many applications, when you stop to think how layering material into a 3D form could be used for anything. It's guaranteed that this technology is going to change our future.
It's no wonder we can't keep up. It takes years for new technology to affect our lives. Although, 3D printing is on the edge of creating a third industrial revolution. We've selected an array to give you an idea of what's to come, although this is nothing compared to what we will see in the future. It's likely we will be printing our own motor vehicle before the end of the next couple of decades. Today, we're going to show you some of the hottest, luxury items that have already been produced.
10 Limited Edition Book Slipcover by Makerbot and Riverhead Books
Author Chang-rae Lee's On Such a Full Sea had the book cover designed to work with the signed, numbered limited edition, 3D printed slip case. It's 3D design is the perfect way to show off the ease with which these new printers are cranking out the latest in technological manufacturing. Printing limited editions will have a whole new meaning with this process. The slip case was printed on a MakerBot Replicator, 2 Desktop 3D Printer and made with MakerBot PLA filament, which is made from corn.
9 Shoes by Bryan Oknyans
Shoes by Bryan is becoming known for his 3D shoe designs and what might very well be the way shoes are made in the future. Think about the animals that might be saved and it makes 3D printing a viable option. Bryan Oknyansky is the heart and head behind his designs. He is as into the brains of the 3D process as he is into creating some of the newest and most chic shoes. This particular pair was featured during London Fashion Week SS13.
8 Printed Brass Bracelet by Maaike van der Horn
The Constructionist bracelet and heart pendant by Maaike Van der Horn were printed in nylon from the 3D printer and then cast in brass. Van der Horn said the piece was inspired by geometry and architecture, which was the material used in the 3D printer that built it. Jewelry is going to be an easy industry to transfer over to new technology.
7 Nervous System's Printed Tetra Kinematics 175n
Nervous System is known for being on the leading edge of the 3D printed jewelry industry. This intricate necklace is layered plastic using a process called laser sintering, which is a type of 3D printing. Each design is completed fully assembled, which makes this a streamlined process for jewelry, which generally takes many steps to create.
6 3D Printed Hyphae Lamps by the Nervous System
Inspired by leaves and their delicate veins that become illuminated with this luxurious, contemporary look. Place a few of these around the grand room and they will cast the most dramatic and elegant shadows and create the perfect atmosphere for that luxurious five-star catered buffet you're about to serve.
5 The Forbidden City Artifact Restoration
This is an amazing use of 3D printing. The original pieces were recorded via optical scanners and then reverse engineered. The 3D printer then recreated the obliterated parts and restored the artifact with more simplicity that more manual techniques used in the past.
4 Phone-integrated Footwear by Alan Nguyen
Perfect yacht-wear with non-slip soles and the handy iPhone holster so you will be reachable without having to think about how to carry it. The lush yellow color is bold and very St. Tropez. Nguyen's use of textures and elevations make these shoes over-the-top original.
3 Glamorous Gold Smartphone Case by Hadoro
Paris headquartered, Hadoro, designed this brilliant 18K gold-plated iPhone 5. The team used 125 grams of gold and printed it with 3D technology and finished by hand. Reports have it that over 200 hours were spent on polishing and refining this dazzling piece. Hadora is known for creating luxury Smartphones. Only 50 of these were made and with a starting price of $76,000, you might want to wait a few years until prices come down.
2 3D Printed Fashion: Iris van Herpen
Iris van Herpen does it again and uses flexible material by Materialise printed on the TPU 92A-1 3D printer. It's clear van Herpen has a knack for this method of creating fashion as this is gorgeous. Plus, if you saw her 2013 Vintage collection, it was obvious she really knows how to make the most out of this collaboration. It's also clear that 3D technology is here to stay.
1 Fine jewelry making by Projet 3510 3D
It's clear 3D printing is going to change everything in our lives, from the processes to the actual finished piece. Jewelry design, for example, is a very costly process that includes many steps. With the advent of the 3D printer, both time and money are saved. Traditionally, designs are sketched by hand or by computer, then created out of wax. The Projet 3510 PX actually creates an intricate and perfectly detailed wax replica of the finished piece that can be reviewed and changed long before the design is cast in metal and topped with precious stones.