I don’t think there’s anyone who hasn’t heard about 3D printing and how it is making everything easier and cheaper to make, but how much do most people actually know about the industry? There are a lot of myths surrounding 3D printers, and most of it boils down to “terrorists will be able to print out AK-47’s”. The industry is not there yet, but there are definitely some very impressive things the technology is capable of.
3D printing is a process which takes a computer generated 3d object and turns into many small slices that mold the object from the bottom up. Some printers are capable of making complex devices like hinges – it really depends on getting the spacing right. This system can make various replacement parts including toys and tools.
The true value of a 3D printer is its ability to do one-off projects. We’ve all had cases where we had something that was relatively old break, only to find out the part wasn’t replaceable. 3D printers solve this problem and give you a chance to fill a demand of one without breaking the bank.
The cost of a 3D printer can vary from $500 to $5,000, and as with everything, you will get what you’re paying for. The range of projects you will be able to complete will be directly dependent on what sort of 3D printer you have. If it is top of the line you will be capable of professional level steel work, and if it is in a more affordable range, you will have something to help you on some of your DIY projects.
People generally have lots of questions about the capabilities of a 3D printer and what it is and is not capable of doing. The key thing to remember is that economics work in a way that make it more expensive to manufacture something on your 3D printer than it would be in a factory. The tools might be cheaper, but the materials and process are still more expensive. This will eventually change, and at that point you will see 3D printers become the more economical option for large scale manufacturing, which could result in a high level shift in global production.