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Tim 16 Nov 2012

Why those years of the chocolate egg with a toy weren’t wasted

By Tim in Design

If you enjoyed – or perhaps still enjoy – fixing and making feats of engineering then the next few years are set to be very exciting for you. Our sister site 123-reg recently reported the potential of Web 3.0 and led heavily on 3D printing as likely to be the biggest change in the way we do business. It’s something that clearly intrigues many including this ‘inventor’ who has designed and even supplies the technical documents and step by step instructions to create your very own working printable headphones. The stereo sound system probably won’t win any audiophile awards but printed in 3D in 13 and a half minutes, to give them the 1330 moniker, makes them a coveted item for anybody who remembers Kinder eggs with fond affection.

The future of printing technology especially appears to be 3D printers, and the speakers are not the only example of how those who can afford the – as yet – highly expensive technology are putting it to use. Over a year ago now Andy Keane and Jim Scanlan of the University of Southampton 3D printed a model aeroplane that snapped together without the need for fixings and actually flew – going one step further than the confectionery egg with a prize every time.

3D printing is not just for fun and gimmicks either. Already in the medical field it is being put to great use to make splints, insoles and foot moulds quicker and more effectively, helping patients onto the road of recovery faster as this BBC report.

The technology has actually been around for a number of years and used in the engineering process but has been prohibitively expensive for the average person. However now with the costs of the technology rapidly dwindling and greater web integration the potential of sending more than just an email via the internet is finally being realised. With speed of production potentially increased and minimal distribution costs too the technology is attracting attention from other avenues including Disney’s toy empire. Yet, the biggest change it is likely to bring about is how we do our da to day business. Imagine not having to wait in for the delivery driver any more but instead you could print out your item direct at home or if you couldn’t afford the technology print it off for collection down the road at a 3D printing shop like this one that has already popped up in New York.

So the future appears to possibly be DIY led. Print in 3D then pop your item together. Perhaps it will resurrect the appeal of jigsaw puzzles and certainly could increase family participation at home instead of being stuck in front of laptop and tv screens. It’s certainly no longer sci-fi, the question is just how far away is the day when 3D printing becomes second nature? How can that be integrated into web design is also yet to be seen, but sending a free gift to your clients may just about to get easier.

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