The 3D-printer is one of the major innovations of this century. With this digitally controlled machine products cannot only be produced faster and cheaper, but also in more complex shapes. Moreover, products can easily be adapted to the demands of the individual consumer. There is a reduced need for new products anyway, as everyone can print spare parts for repairs at home. Large factories are no longer needed. In short, 3-D-printing is the start of a new industrial revolution.
Using 3D-printing techniques makes it possible to produce in large numbers, whereas the individual products retain their unique characteristics. The software that is required to adapt a particular design to personal preferences is becoming more and more user-friendly. By using a 3D-scanner the contours of a body part can be converted into a digital design. In this way, for instance, it is possible to produce bespoke medical prostheses. In the end the consumer will have total freedom, as he cannot only produce his own products, but also design them. In fact, it seems we are witnessing the start of a new Industrial Revolution. Standard 3D-printers can be used to turn out small-scale bioplastics products of a moderate quality, but it takes a fair degree of technical expertise to create well-designed and efficient objects.
The 3D-print: NOW! exhibition shows what can be achieved with this innovative technique, from the production of everyday practical objects and extravagant fashion accessories, to food and even complete buildings. As the developments in 3D-printing are occurring at an exceedingly fast rate, it will also take a look at the future. Examples are print work with very strong carbon fibres and titan, but also with clay, glass and even wood pulp. The introduction of industrial 3D-printers as large as sea containers has made it possible to print objects in ever increasing dimensions. At the other end of the scale there are extremely expensive and advanced 3D-printers from space industry that can be used for printing within tolerances of millimetres. But there are also simple 3D-printers that everyone can make themselves, because all parts are produced with, wait for it... indeed, a 3D-printer. In the near future it will be possible to print with living cells and smart materials which react to heat or light. Consequently the impact that the 3D-printer will have on our daily life will only increase further.
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