Does 3D Printing Live up to the Hype?

Every innovation generates media buzz and consumer hype. It’s a tried and tested formula that’s once again proven with the event of 3D printing, where outlets publish features around 3D printers replicating art and pulling off a variety of other extraordinary feats. Is it all rhetoric and conjecture, or is there some truth in the revelation of this new(ish) technology?

After all, companies like RS Components constantly release innovative products, but don’t waste time making grandiose claims, clickbait headings or warped projections. Is too much boasting a bad thing?
Consequently, let’s do some further investigating and ask the following question; does 3D printing truly live up to the hype?

How Does 3D Printing Work?

Whereas a regular printer can produce reems of documents with writing and images, 3D printers instead produce complete objects. They can use a variety of materials from plastic to resin and can also have a hand in creating things like vases, machine components and even prosthetic body parts.
The objects themselves are first designed on a common computer by a user, and then they simply click a button and wait. The 3D printer does most of the legwork thereafter, printing layer after layer of the specified materials to eventually construct a solid object that’s fit for use (depending that the designer did their job correctly). It’s certainly a timely process, but it undeniably works!

Is 3D Printing Popular?

There’re few hurdles in place that prevent 3D printing truly taking off and becoming popular among the masses. One of these factors is the costs involving in purchasing this equipment; it’s highly expensive and an impossible investment for most people. Businesses and a few rich individuals might pick one up, but outside of that, things don’t fare too well here.
Because of this, 3D printers have built up a reputation for being used as specialist equipment. They’re not really something the average shopper would feel compelled to purchase, simply because they’re used to develop next-level products and pull off extraordinary design feats. Skills and training are required to use them. Therefore, one might say that they’re not too appealing to the typical consumer, but popular among those in graphic and design businesses, for example.

Is 3D Printing Impactful?

As with all technology, 3D printers save an enormous amount of time. Another chip is taken off conveyor belt manufacturing, and elaborate and convoluted production lines can now be streamlined into a single machine; the 3D printer. For a manufacturing business that knows how to use a 3D printer, internal processes just got faster, easier and smarter.
There’s also the previously mentioned business of creating prosthetic limbs, which is undeniably impactful in and of itself. There’s an enormous amount of potential here, as this technology can provably enhance people’s quality of life. Even outside of this, delivery companies could be rendered obsolete, in that if someone breaks a product or object, they could potentially just print another. It could change the face of shopping, and even reduce pollution subsequently too.
Still, most of this speculation is purely hypothetical for now. 3D printers will need to be made available to all before the technology truly makes an impact. Until that day occurs, the impact of 3D printing will always fall frustratingly short of its true potential.

Image Credits: 3D Printing from FabrikaSimf/Shutterstock

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