The State of 3D Printing
3D printing was born, in the 1980s, out of the need to prototype parts for manufacturing. However, as the technology have evolved 3D printing is becoming more accessible to the average consumer. In just a few decades, 3D printers have gone from being too expensive for most companies to buy to being cheap enough that you can realistically purchase one just to tinker with at home.
But why would you want one in your home? To Make things or course! The idea of making stuff for fun and self-fulfillment has gained tremendous popularity in recent years, but the basic motivation is an inseparable part of human nature. The same urge to invent that put man on the moon is also what motivated your father to build that birdhouse when you were a kid, and it’s the same thing that has consumers interested in 3D printing today.
Also, contributing to the popularity of 3D printing are forums and websites dedicated to the sharing of user-created digital design files. The availability of these files (e.g. thingiverse) allow even novices to 3D print useful objects quickly.
Another factor contributing to the popularity of 3D printing are design tools such as TinkerCad, Google Sketchup, and AutoDesk 123 that aid with DIY design. The consumer can create new 3D designs from scratch.
One final factor contributing to the popularity of 3D printing is the wide proliferation of quality 3D printers, 3D scanners, etc. that are available to help the consumer create whatever can be imagined!