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The 3 Ways 3D Printing Will Change Our Lives


Kira Newman, Tech Cocktail
 
In the distant 3D-printed future, our homes might be filled with customized 3D-printed furniture, our closets filled with 3D-printed clothes and shoes. We might 3D print our birthday cakes and chocolate candies, our iPhone cases and our flower vases. Going to the store to buy something might be a last  resort—unless it’s the store for 3D printing filament.
 
That’s all a possibility, of course. Who knows how ubiquitous 3D printing will become? But we do know that it has the potential to unleash our creativity, reduce our waste and create more opportunities for the poor.
 
More Creativity
With 3D printing, whole new avenues for creativity are being explored. What’s the perfect case for storing my iPad at night, or the perfect hook for hanging my purse on the wall? If I were to design my own wedding shoes, what might they look like? Is that really the coolest coffee mug I could imagine? People have already used 3D printing to create breathtaking illusions; design wedding rings, shoes and jewelry; print their own smartphone cases; and build customized leg coverings for amputees.
 
Less Waste
Sustainability advocates are hoping that 3D printing will further their cause of reducing consumption and waste. When we need a new plate or frame, for example, we could print it and skip driving to the store. Already, we are learning to use 3D printers to reduce waste little by little. We can print replacement parts to repair things when we’d otherwise throw them away. MakerBot’s Thingiverse actually has a whole replacement parts category. We can “upcycle,” turning useless things destined for the trash into new objects—for example, a glass jar turned into an orange juicer. 
 
More Opportunity for the Poor
3D printing can also lower the cost of necessities to improve quality of life for the poor. Contour Crafting can 3D print a house in 24 hours, and they’re exploring low-income housing. The Washington Open Object Fabricators are working on turning waste plastic (like milk cartons) into composting toilets. Richard Van As and designer Ivan Owen created the Robohand a set of 3D printed fingers, which costs around $150 instead of tens of thousands of dollars.
 
These are the early days of 3D printing, where excitement is high and the paths are endless. But with a little planning, some visionary leadership and a bit of luck, we’ll make our way to a beautifully designed future. How do you think 3D printing will change the world?

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