Chinese factory on your desktop!

Nov 26

Chinese factory on your desktop!

A simple HP printer can turn your backroom into a small printing press, add in some colour ink and some overpriced paper you get a photo lab. Both of these capabilities have become reality for millions of people all over the world. We print documents, photos, burn CD´s and DVD´s in a few minutes, without even thinking twice. In the 80´s if you wanted to copy a 90-minute album from one tape to another it would take, well, 90-minutes; and even then the quality wasn´t that great. When “high speed dubbing” was introduced (recording at twice the speed – 45-minutes!) everybody thought it was a revelation! So what´s the next disruptive revelation?

Allow me to introduce you to the next revelation which you will look back on with the same nostalgia as the image above of the double cassette deck in just a few years. Drum roll please…wait for it…introducing the…3D printer! OK if you have been paying attention this will not come as a surprise, but what may come as a surprise is that a group of people in the city of Bath (UK) are planning on getting one of these things into your house and onto your desk in the next year. Not just in your house, but in every house that wants one for the grand cost of $300. More or less the same price as a good quality desktop printer.

Imagine for a moment that you have a four year old daughter and she wants some shoes. The normal way of sorting this out is to get in your car, drive to the shops, try on several pairs of shoes, throw a tantrum (while your daughter looks on embarrassed), pay for them and drive home. Oh I forgot to mention traffic and parking and the nagging feeling of guilt that the pair of shoes you just bought were probably made by girl in China under questionable working conditions. All of this, only to repeat the process 6 months later when the shoes no longer fit.

Now there is another way. Print the shoes out on your new home printer. The same process would go something like this. Your daughter searches the internet (she is probably faster than you anyway) for the latest must-have shoes for the super cool four year old. She downloads the design of the shoes to her wireless laptop and presses “print”. Several minutes later she is running around the house in her new shoes screaming with joy as you look on with amazement as a stream of phrases that start with “when I was your age…” spring to mind. That´s not the end of the story, six months later when the shoes are no longer the latest “must-have” your daughter throws her shoes in the shredder, the plastics are seperated and 15-minutes later a new pair of shoes are printed.

Yes, yes, yes but how are we going to get all of these 3D printers into peoples houses I hear you ask? Put simply, people will print the printers. One printer will print another (child), then the child will print the next printer (grandchild) and so on…

Want a mini factory on your desk? Get a 3D printer. Want to give a 3D printer as a gift? Print one out!

RepRap from Adrian Bowyer on Vimeo.

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