Having been used in Laboratory shelves and University labs, 2012 marked the year 3D printers when from R&D’s secret weapon to being the next great appliance for tech-savy homeowners and DIYers. With huge implications, 3D printers take in materials and create real-world objects from digital renders.
Amongst the huge strides taken this year included Glasgow University’s printing of chemical compounds in a pill shape, with future plans to print the off-the-shelf drug Ibuprofen. A groups called Defence Distributed printed a political hot potato when they printed a working gun, and then made the digital plans free online, giving anyone the ability to print their own gun at home. 2012 also saw Belgian engineers print a full-sized, functional race car from digital plans and a 3D printer.
With staggering implication, people could begin home printing of tools, equipment, merchandise and, with chemical compounds being created, potentially pharmaceuticals.
Could organic compounds be utilized next to print food or medicine?
Much like traditional printers took some lustre away from books,
could 3D printers make the idea of retail shopping an ideas of the past?
With text and books being pirated, could we see a crackdown on open source and free plans to build toasters and coffee machines? Is the next great battleground for copyright material going to be fought over patents for merchandise?
2013 and beyond shows great promise in this field and many people cannot wait for 3D printers to go further mainstream. 2012 will be look back on as the year 3D printers got off the ground and started coming into homes.