Since the time of the printing press, we have harbored a desire to improve the design and functionality of printing machines. Modern computer printers have made old style printing methods and handwriting virtually obsolete.
Inspired by once fictitious technological advancements portrayed in science fiction shows like Star Trek, we have seen the future and tried to make it a reality. Having already surpassed flip style communicators with computerized smart phones, the next frontier to dominate is the replicator technology that made the future appear to be an amazing place to live. Believe it or not, we may be much closer to replicator technology than we might think. An advancement of that magnitude would truly be life altering–especially if the technology can be manufactured and sold to consumers at a reasonable cost and made to be practical for everyone to use.
3D Printers In Every Home
With technology taking a dimensional turn from the second dimension into the third dimension, printer technology now operates in a 3D capacity. Much like a replicator, materials are printed into the shapes we desire. However, the trouble with many 3D printers is that they tend to be designed to work with application specific materials. For example, a 3D printer that is designed to work on plastic is not necessarily going to handle working with harder materials like glass or metal so easily. However, with the price of 3D printers coming down, the reality of there being a 3D printer in every home in the near future is certainly feasible, even if they are limited in the materials they can print 3D objects with. Now that 3D printers have been used to print pizza, such machines might make fast food itself an obsolete business model.
The Dangers Of 3D Printing Getting Us Closer To Replicator Technology
Once average people everywhere could get their hands on 3D printers, one of the first applications that people would strive to produce is gun parts. Now that the proverbial Genie is out of the bottle, it is just a matter of time before anyone with a 3D printer that produces metal parts will have the ability to print high precision fire arms in mass. As with replicator technology on Star Trek, this sort of high tech solution in our own time could easily be used for the wrong purposes. In the case of replicator technology though, the speed of producing the objects you need is greatly increased, along with their complexity both in design and material composition.
The Next Step
Now that we have a grasp on how to print in 3D, the next step would seem to be to overcome the problem of producing models that require intricate uses of composite materials. Perhaps someday, this process will be as simple as a laser guiding subatomic particles to precise positions along a virtual matrix, such that the particles resolve to formulate solid massive rigid bodies. In this capacity, 3D printers would not need to worry about the type of material they are using. Rather, the material substances and properties needed are conjured straight from subatomic components. At present this may not be a very likely scenario, but maybe we will see this very advancement in our lifetime.