So, 3D printing has been in the hype machine for some time now, with optimistic futurists predicting a new industrial revolution where products are put completely into the greedy hands of the consumer. The optimistic dream being that every house has its own 3D printer capable of printing designer spare parts, tools, designer furniture and paradoxically more 3D printers, all through simply downloading a blueprint file or even scanning an object.In essence the factory that produces all your favourite coat pegs and alarm clocks will relocate from the hinterlands of China to within your own home, presumably in the utility room… or on the landing.
As you can imagine the possibilities are endless, from the prospect of printing replacement body parts to LPs compatible with a 1970s Fisher Price record player unfortunately developing along with this sweeping optimism are genuine fears of an onslaught of 3D piracy (there’s always a naysayer). Even the recently passed Enterprise and Regulatory Reform Bill will surely have little consequence on an army of self printers determined to get their grubby paws on their own limited edition Eames’ chair, Philippe Starck lemon squeezer or even their own Aston Martin DB9, all printed within the comfort of their home.
Unfortunately it will be quite some time before we’re all printing each other dodgy Macbooks and Turkey burgers for Christmas however, due to the tedious restrictions of price and size. Luckily for those who cant wait, there’s the delightful news from Japan that for the meager price of $264 dollars one can 3D print a 20cm figurine of their own likeness, warts and all. All the customer has to do is book into the temporary booth in Tokyo for a 15 minute hand scan where he/she must stand completely still, akin to 19th century portrait photography, and after a few days anxious wait is rewarded with his or hers very own Action Man or Barbie doppleganger!
Finally! A worthwhile application of the technology has been developed.