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3D Printing: Re-Modelling Our Future

Posted in Perfect print design on 19 December 2012

Here at Doxdirect, perhaps unsurprisingly, we’re very interested in current trends and advancements in the printing industry. Whilst we are, again quite unsurprisingly, invested in 2D printing technology, specialising in a wide variety of paper printing and binding services, the recent advancements in 3D printing technology has started to catch our eye. Before I even heard the phrase ‘3D printing‘ I hadn’t even considered our business a 2D printing company, the concept of printing something out in 3 dimensions just seemed alien to the very foundations of the printing industry: paper. Obviously it’s not something that is particularly pertinent to our business since we specialise in printing on paper but the steps forward that it has shown in the printing industry are obviously of keen interest to us and showcase the exciting and innovative propensities held within the industry.

3D Printed Bicycle

3D printing, also known as additive manufacturing, describes the process of producing a 3 dimensional object from a digital model. In other words, a computer will store a kind of blueprinted plan of the object that will be printed out and the printer will then place, or indeed print, out cross sections of the object (often in liquid plastic, powder or sheet material) until the whole shape is formed. The possibilities of this technology range from the inconsequential to the amazing to the philosophically profound. For example, this video showcases a design team using a 3D printer to print out a bike, the result of which is photographed above; pretty amazing I’m sure you’ll agree! It’s made me want to print out a bike and upon being asked where I bought it from, look my friend square in the eye and say, in the most deadpan manner possible, “I printed it”- at which point I’d immediately cycle off into the sunset without another word. Maybe that’s just me though.

There have even been projects in the work to get a 3D printer to print itself out again. When you stop and think about the implications of this you start to realise how absolutely astonishing this new technology really is. Cloning and self-replication are usually reserved for our cinema screen’s visions of dystopic future cities and technologies; now we can start to see the dreamed technologies of the future being realised today, in a printer of all things!

A 3D Printer in ActionAs long as these new 3D printers don’t start developing Artificial Intelligence, forming a company called Skynet and printing out Terminators, we’ll remain excited to see such levels of innovation and tantalising technological advancement continue. Maybe one day we’ll get a 3D printer to print us out some more printing machinery to keep costs down for you guys, our loyal customers! Who knows!? One this is for sure though, 3D printers are here to stay and they’ve added a fantastic new facet to the printing industry that all of the team at Doxdirect are happy to see.