For the tech geeks out there, you will know that the annual technology spectacular has been held in Las Vegas, the Consumer Electronics Show (CES). I have been watching the coverage on YouTube all week and there really is some staggering technology set to go mainstream this year. But one thing lacking from this year’s event is coverage about 3D printing. Which got me to thinking, if 3D printing is capable of printing pretty much anything, could our industry put it to some use?
I asked the question on Twitter to see what other companies thought and it turns out that a lot of manufacturers are already using them to create prototypes. But the feedback was that the machines were a big expense at first and that from a mass production perspective, it wasn’t cost effective right now to start making component on mass using a 3D printer.
However, this technology is very new and just as with all other technologies, as it becomes more developed and more widely used, the cost will come down. A lot of tech enthusiasts are actually predicting that 2014 will be the year where 3D printers start to make it into people’s homes. If this happens, then I think that the doors could start to open for 3D printed components made on a larger scale.
Costs need to come down first though. If they do, and manufacturers can invest in an array of machines instead of just one, then that opens up more opportunities. The initial thoughts at the moment is that 3D printing remains too expensive for mass producing components for the window industry. But I honestly do believe that 3D printing could usher in a new age of British made components, bringing back manufacturing to these shores and strengthening our British companies further. It’s going to be a long process, but I do think there is a lot of potential in it.
What do you think? Will 3D printing always remain too expensive and limit what can actually be made? Or do you think 3D printing will change the way all things are made? All comments welcome in the section below.