Disruptions: on the fast track to routine 3D printing

February 19, 2013

3D printer (credit: MakerBot)

Hod Lipson, an associate professor and the director of the Creative Machines Lab at Cornell, said “3D printing is worming its way into almost every industry, from entertainment, to food, to bio- and medical-applications,” The New York Times reports.

Dr. Lipson, the co-author of “Fabricated: The New World of 3D Printing,” said that the technology “is not going to simply replace existing manufacturing anytime soon.”

While it probably won’t create new jobs, he said he believed that it would give rise to new businesses. “The bigger opportunity in the U.S. is that it opens and creates new business models that are based on this idea of customization.”

The education system may want to speed things up. The time between predictions for 3D printers and the reality of what they can accomplish is compressing rapidly.

For example, in 2010, researchers at the University of Southern California said that another decade would pass before we could build a home using a 3D printer. Yet last week, Softkill Design, a London architecture collective, announced that it planned to make the first such home — which it will assemble in a single day — later this year.

The price of 3D printers has also dropped sharply over the last two years, with machines that once cost $20,000, now at $1,000 or less.