For thousands of years, we have been laying ink on paper, and calling it printing. For many of us this is the primary way to digest information via books, newspapers, and other related print materials. Then the internet stepped in (no thanks to Al Gore), and most of us started to consume information in a whole new way. This was so much faster and easier for us to search out the content we so desperately needed. This left us with the question, what will happen to print? Well print has evolved and we even have today, something called 3D printing!
So what is 3D printing? 3D printing is a form of additive manufacturing where a three dimensional object is created by laying down successive layers of material. Most 3D printing technology is an offshoot of inkjet printing technology. In many cases making a prototype from a 3D printer is much faster and cheaper than making one the traditional way. In a case study, Autodesk University and Stratasys manufactured a full scale Rolls-Royce Turbo-prop airplane engine using 3D Audodesk software and 3D printers. When compared to traditional manufacturing techniques, they had a 97% cost reduction, and 83% time reduction!
We as graphic communications experts have not yet grasped the way in which to apply this new technology, but the time is near. Architects, Engineers, Designers, and Builders have already jumped on the opportunity and they have seen great success. I would challenge everyone in the communications industry to study up on 3D printing, and find a way to incorporate it into their arsenal of options!
Author: T. John Mehl