The Next Big Thing Is Already Here and It's 3D Printing

The Next Big Thing Is Already Here and It's 3D Printing

Once in a while there's a sort of early confluence in technology, where the writing is on the wall for all to see and the opportunity so obvious that the big guns turn their sites to it. Back in the heyday of 3D graphics there were more manufacturers clamoring over each other in the space than you could shake a dynamically-lit, bump-mapped stick at.  From chip suppliers to board partners and software developers, the market was teaming with growth and opportunity.  We're about to turn the corner on the birth of a burgeoning new market and eventually everybody will want in on the action.

Windows 8.1 Offers Native Support for 3D Printing
3D Printer support, native for Windows 8.1

When Microsoft stepped out and offered native support for 3D Printing in Windows 8.1, it was really just a sign of things to come.  Big brand names like Amazon, eBay, and Staples are are picking up quickly on the opportunities of 3D Printing and there's a common thread -- 3D Printing isn't just for geeks that like to tinker with high tech toys that create things. It's set to break out big in the mainstream market. And we're talking fire up the marketing weasels with massive budgets kind of big.


Cube 3D 3D Printer from 3D Systems

Earlier this week Jess McGatha, Senior Program Manger at Microsoft gave a demo of a beta 3D Printing application for Windows with device driver interface detail showcasing ability to select target printing devices from within the application.  The idea was to make 3D Printing as easy and convenient as printing from any other Microsoft Office app. Apparently Microsoft sees the opportunity with 3D Printing and though there is obviously a long road ahead as the technology matures, they want to help foster it and accelerate development.  As it turns out, many current 3D Printing software packages from various vendors run on Windows with custom APIs and drivers.  I cringe at the thought of term but "plug and play" is coming to 3D Printing.


Cubify 3D Printing Software from 3D Systems

So, some day, you might be downloading the latest WHQL certified driver for that 3D Printer sitting on your desktop, getting ready to print yourself a new iPhone slip case.  Or maybe you'll be downloading it from Google Play on your Android phone and printing out that part you need wirelessly, from the picture you just took of that broken garden hose coupling. The damn things never last if you leave them outside for the winter. You should know better but hey, shoot it, render it, slice it, print it.  No problem. 

Did you hear that?  That's the "next big thing" train getting ready to leave the station and believe it or not, Samsung hasn't corned the market on it, yet.
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I don't know if I would personally shell out $400-$500 on a 3D printer. I don't think I have a use for it. Maybe its just me but I think the early adopter happiness/bragging rights will die out pretty soon for most!

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If someone has an imagination, and the knowledge to use 3D design software, then he can probably find practical uses for the printers. But, not until those machines get faster without getting more expensive, will they become standard equipment in commercial settings. It takes too long for a piece to be printed. In business, time is money.

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Guys its definitely huge thats for sure. I mean for goodness sakes its already being used in the medical field for awesome purposes for example restoring 70% of a mans skull or using it to build livers shapped out of a material where they can put real liver cells and basically grow a liver to test things on it. Granted thats a different level of 3d printing but still along the same lines of technology. I know the point here is for mainstream but as SamCurcio brought out those with the knowledge and imagination will do great things with this. Just like other somewhat expensive technology(tablets for example) it will become more mainstream and more common.

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I can't agree with you two, supergd and Sam. I think it won't be too long before this technology will get much more capable, faster and less expensive, like any other fledgling technology to hit the market. They're printing with molten metal now... it may not be extruded plastics that is the primary material used but soon enough it's to get a lot more user friendly and with amazing results.

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I agree.  This is going to get mass produced and more accessible!

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"So, some day, you might be downloading the latest WHQL certified driver for that 3D Printer sitting on your desktop, getting ready to print yourself a new iPhone slip case."

I -love- that idea. Sure beats having to shell our $20+ for something you know costs cents to make.

I admit I was ignorant of the potential 3D printers had... I just didn't expect things to accelerate as they have. I personally don't have a need for a 3D printer at this point in time (for the things I'd make, the price just can't be justified... it'd be more for "fun"), but I do look forward to the future and seeing what can be done with them. It's pretty exciting.

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