If you’ve been following the rapid development of 3D printing, you’re probably as amazed by the possibilities as I am. One of the things I love about it is that it’s a grassroots DIY movement open to the masses, so it takes manufacturing out of the normal scope and scale we’ve been used to for centuries.
Another thing I love: not only can you design and print a real, customized and usable 3D object with a wide range of affordable 3D printers, but you can also upload, share and download designs on the web. I imagine a future where we won’t buy hard goods from stores; rather, we’ll download a CAD file of the thing we want and print it right at home.
A great new example of the social possibilities shaping up for 3D printing is Shapeways, a New York startup that bills itself as “a growing online community and marketplace … that harnesses 3D printing to help you make, buy and sell anything you want.”
Check out their video on How 3D Printing works:
At Shapeways, you can upload your own 3D design or use their online design tool. You can also sell your creation, or buy something from someone else. An important feature of the Shapeways service is that they do the printing for you, which may or may not turn you on. If nothing else, it’s a great way to try out 3D printing, without buying a printer.
The prototype of tomorrow’s hard goods marketplace may have just arrived.