3D printing is great on its own, anything you can imagine if you have the CAD skills you may print, up to a certain size in certain materials that is. With a 3D scanner though 3D printing services becomes even more exciting and in fact much more like a replicator, which sci-fi fans will certainly appreciate.
This September the 3D Printshow 2012 will be held in London and many who haven’t heard of 3D printing services will be able to see them in action for the first time, one way they will be demonstrated will be using a 3D scanner to scan visitor’s bodies before printing them out in full detail but in miniature.
There are likely then to be a few wow moments at the 3D Printshow and even those aware of 3D printing will start to understand the true potential of 3D printing services: not just for rapid prototyping where the technology has mainly been used so far but also for fun and making bespoke products.
A full range of companies using 3D scanning and printing services as well as providing the technology should be at the show including designers creating new ideas in CAD and holding them in their hands within hours or even minutes demonstrating right there.
There will also be Europac who themselves are using the technology in new and innovative ways, for example they 3D scanned the film sets for Harry Potter films ready to be put straight into video games thereby saving hours of hand building scenes through CAD. Europac have also scanned the weathered and at risk sculptures at Blenheim Palace, one of the UK’s most magnificent residences, and they can now repair the scans in CAD and 3D Print models to be used in education, exhibitions or even to make molds around to make replacements should the need ever occur.
Early Adopters from many of the UK and Europe’s manufacturers will certainly be out in force looking at how they can leverage this technology to improve efficiency and drive down costs but also how it could change their industries with it becoming easier than ever for a company to begin manufacturing without a massive capital investment.
Hobbyists are another group who seem to get 3D printing and whether they have a 3D printer themselves or use a 3D printing service to create parts for them they can use them in a variety of different areas such as making replacement parts, and bespoke hardware for woodwork and similar.
Then there are the entrepreneurs who see their opportunity to make their ideas realities, e-readers and print on demand services have allowed writers to self publish books, now product designers can self manufacture their products: again using their own 3D printers or a 3D printing service.
The 3D Printshow 2012 in London is unlikely to be the last, the 3D printing pavilion at the Maker Faire in America has been getting bigger each time and the media, and not just industry publications, have been getting interested in 3D printing and what it means for us all.