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Two of the most exciting technologies to have hit the mainstream in recent years are finally finding a way to fuse together. 3D cloud printing has just begun helping consumers design and create their own versions of popular products.
Unless you have been living on one, you know that cloud computing facilitates an inexpensive way for individuals and businesses to host, collaborate, store and share data via to internet. When applied to printing, the cloud network is set up to printers that you control so that necessary tangible documents can be sent to any printer you have set up within your cloud network.
What is 3D Printing?
3D printing is exactly what it sounds like. A model replica of a design is constructed from a digital mold. Of course the necessary materials would have to be readily available, but with 3D printing a sketched idea or plan can actually be made into an object that you can hold in your hands. Sounds amazing, but in fact this technology has been around since the ’80’s where it was first used mainly for research purposes at major universities and large companies. It has now spread into the rapid manufacturing of everything from jewelry to shoes.
For 3D, or additive, printing to work, the desired materials are joined together in a particular order as per the digital instructions provided. Plastics and metals are widely used in almost all types of applications, while medical technology has been exploring its possible applications using live tissue. A particularly exciting concept for medical professionals looking at alternatives for human transplant needs. 3D printing has even started to make a mark in the food industry, with some rather well known brands partnering with 3D printing companies to devise alternative production means for some of our favorite foods.
(Infographic Source: 3D2Print)
Now wrap your mind around the idea of the combination of the two. The ability to send a digital 2D sketch of an idea you have to a company who will print out its 3D version and ship it back to you. The possibilities are seemingly endless.
As a consumer you can design your own product, pick the materials and send the 2D image over the cloud network. The enterprise that is handling the printing will go over the design and chosen materials to make sure it is feasible before printing begins. With your idea and their expertise, you can create and customize just about anything you can think of.
With the consumer making their own products, it won’t be long before on-line retailers get in on the action. So far it seems that the only problem plaguing 3D cloud printing is a higher demand than initially expected. Major companies from around the globe are looking for ways to cut costs with this technology as well as continue to hold consumer interest in their products. The idea of going to the Nike web store and designing your own pair of running shoes no longer seems far-fetched. As this technology continues to expand, expect to see it popping up in all aspects of your world.
By Glenn Blake