Umbra Designer, Michelle Pietrantonio, explains how their amazing 3D printer works (it’s a Dimension BST 1200), how it’s changed the way she works and whether we could all own one in the near future.
In case you don’t know, three-dimensional printing is a method of converting a virtual 3D model into a physical object. 3D printing is a category of rapid prototyping technology. 3D printers typically work by ‘printing’ successive layers on top of the previous to build up a three dimensional object. 3D printers are generally faster, more affordable and easier to use than other additive fabrication technologies.
Although Michelle doesn’t think we’d have our own 3D printers anytime soon (their unit lists at $18,900), let’s take a look at our good old print technology for reference: The Printing (Gutenberg) Press appeared in 1439 and it was indeed cumbersome, thus owned by the few. Dot matrix printers appeared around the 1980s, while Ink Jet printers took to our homes sometime in the 1990s. That’s almost 50 years from inception to becoming an everyday tool.
Recalling Moore’s Law, I do foresee 3D printers quickly refining in technology, both in terms of cost and functionality, to a point where I should be able to download models online to produce my own objects at home, all within my lifetime.
Slowly but surely, I think we’re getting closer to creating our very own Star Trek Replicator!