3D printing : changing the way of life
We were at Nanyang Technological University's 3D Festival yesterday (17-Dec), in part to support one of our potential clients, and in part to learn more about a discipline that is changing many aspects of our lives. There were also lectures on how 3D is used in various applications. It is interesting to note that the technology for 3D printing has been around for about ten years, and it's getting more prominence nowadays.
3D printing can be used to produce metal parts for machines, cars, mechanical structures, etc. It seems more accurate than milling, and especially useful when small quantities of customised products are needed. It has also been used to produce plastic-based composite structures to be used in implants (in human bodies). 3D printing's capabilities are expanding, and is entering the world of fashion.
The highlight of the 3D- Festival was a fashion show, and display of various 3D-printed fashion pieces. Straits Times's Razor TV has a nice video of the event here: http://www.razor.tv/video/666213/printing-their-own-fashion. Bodices, hair accessories, a skirt and a pair of shoes were among the wearable pieces being displayed. Since 3D printed pieces are made mostly from plastic-based materials, they are not comfortable and cannot be worn independently as garments in daily use. To get the soft consistency of fabrics might still take some time.
But 3D printing is a very viable option for customised manufacturing - of expensive machine parts, gift items, models (of oneself or others), or even simple household items like cups and spoons. Someday, we may be able to print our own food too. We're living in exciting times indeed!