3D printing. The possibilities are kinda, sorta endless.

On the one hand, the advent of 3D printing is a little overhyped. It's not as though there's a personal 3D printer out there that can readily spit out anything your heart desires as though you're a futuristic George Jetson clone… yet. But the applications, for anyone who's made of money and in possession of various materials in abundance, are pretty much wide open.

There's a little movement in regards to home use, but the real action, thus far, is in the various applications of this on the industrial side. We're in early days, to be certain, but there's no shortage of players seeking to take part in the space. A Chinese company just produced and erected ten homes using a 3D printer. Disney researchers printed a teddy bear and medical researchers are moving closer to the ability to print human organs.

It's somewhat mind boggling, really. From airplane builders to auto manufacturers, everyone with money and vision is utilizing the technology to build protoypes, save money and speed up production. But what about home use? A recent survey indicated that a home 3D printer is something that one in three people would buy in 2014, but one really has to wonder if the limited variety of designs and materials at present would make it worthwhile. It seems that people are quite smitten with the idea of home 3D printing, even if the reality of it still lags a bit behind.

But in between the monoliths of industry and the home user, there's an opportunity for printers such as Hotcards to basically serve as middle men by purchasing commercial grade printers and doing customized work for the likes of Joe and Sally down the block. There may be no need for your neighbors to plunk down a few thousand dollars for a printer to print out a handful of customized plastic pens, for instance, but that's what printing companies are for. And they'll be able to do such at a much cheaper price than previously.

The commercial implications are all too obvious with 3D printing, and as the technology advances, it's not a remote fantasy that one day people will be able to make a rubber ducky for the bathtub after printing out a replacement for a missing knob on their coffee machine, but that's still off in the future. For now, 3D printing is a plaything for deep pocketed businesses, and still kind of an idle fantasy for the guy next door.

3D Printed Ball


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