3D printers may be in our future

In the not too distant future, every home may have the ability to not only buy a product online but also be able to have it made right there in an instant in their home. This obviously sounds like science fiction but the actual technology already exists, except that the process may not be like the futuristic movies and stories described it. In those stories, the product desired seemed to appear in less than a second out of nothing. This is not how the actual technology works… at least not for 2010.

Many, many products of all kinds today are made using a CNC machine which takes a digital rendering and then cuts and shapes the material to meet the spec of the image on the computer. You may have seen this machine at work on those shows that tour factories and follow products as they are being produced, like on the Discovery Channel. The idea with home use is basically the same as the industrial concept only the machine is much smaller and less capable. Current home versions of this CNC machine, called the CupCake CNC by MakerBot cost under $1,000 and are relatively small but, can only make certain products. It’s a start nonetheless.

The name, 3D printing is a bit misleading and actually makes it sound less impressive. My first thought when I heard the name was that it’s a printer that can print on items other than paper such as a ball or shoes for example. However, by 3D printer, they mean that like regular printers, you can see an image of something on your computer screen and then have it come out right in front of you, like a regular printer.

Some analysts think that in the next few years, these printers will be common place in the home. Even a major company, HP, is investing in this industry which means that it really can be a future hit. At the moment, the printers don’t make all types of products, mostly just novelty items, but as the technology progresses it will eventually be able to make most types of products.

This industry is very young and new right now which means that there are many opportunities for various businesses in every market. It is an industry that will likely become better known and more giant tech companies like HP will be entering it. Therefore, the time is now for entrepreneurs to get in with a good idea and run with it.