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February 17, 2015

What’s Next For 3D Printing?

3D printing is taking the world by storm. Haven’t heard of it yet? Don’t worry, you probably haven’t seen a 3D printer for sale at Apple or Best Buy. In fact, you probably have never seen one. The fact is, though, that 3D printing is most likely here to stay.

Even when it comes to clothing, there’s a futuristic wave of change that is sweeping through the fashion world. Even as you read this, fashion designing is rising to a whole new level. It’s much bigger than a new trend taking over, it is actually an entirely new technology for creating clothing.

Bradely Rothenburg is a man who is redefining what fashion is. In fact, he claims that fashion is going to be more about math, codes, and computers than about cutting, measuring, and pinning. While he started his study of 3D printing in the realm of architectural scale models, his studies were brought into the field of fashion design. Imagine an outfit of complex pattern and layering, being created not by human hands and high-tech sewing machines, but by code programming, powder and a 3D printer.

Yet, you don’t need to imagine, because it is already available. Currently, fashion designers are beginning to learn more about coding and 3D printers. Nonetheless, the fashion industry is not the only area where 3D printing is taking over. It is also drastically changing the fields of electronics, aerospace, automotives, mechanics and health-care. In fact, it all started with the vision for creating realistic prototypes.

The birth of 3D printing

In the 1980s, Carl Deckard was already picturing the possibilities available with 3D printing. He co-founded Desk Top Manufacturing Corporation in 1987, and the company produced a way to manufacture rapid prototypes. This was mostly used in manufacturing factories. Carl Deckard wasn’t the only one with the future of printing capabilities on his mind, however. In the early 1990s, the first real 3D printer was developed.

A company called 3D systems, out of MIT, created the first printer of this type. In February 2011, it allowed six companies to use and promote 3D printing. From there, 3D printing took off. Instead of only using 3D printing for prototypes, Engineers now use 3D printers to create final products from plastics and metals. This technology is an additive process. Instead of the common method of forming and refashioning metals and plastics, 3D printing uses far less material and, therefore. far less money.

Some engineers are actually projecting 3D printing to completely customize consumption. To illustrate: say you want to buy a certain product. You order it online and it prints at your house at your convenience. Similar to downloading music, you can download products at your home or at a nearby print center. Many people already have 3D printers in their homes. The technology is ready to be used in any form imaginable. In a world where convenience and customization are king, 3D printing will continue to be highly valued and highly sought after in the near future.

Zecotek–A cut above the rest

Zecotek is on the forefront of this growing market. Zecotek Photonics is bringing innovative laser, imaging, and 3D display products to industrial, scientific and medical markets worldwide. Zecotek is largely responsible for creating the precious metal powders that go into 3D printers.

To date, Zecotek has been working with and testing on advanced metal alloy powders. They have found that these powders use metal hydrides synthesis, which means that they have a higher productivity capability at a lower energy consumption. While Zecotek has developed and improved metal manufacturing for their own line of 3D printers, they have confirmed that other lines of 3D printers can use their powder as well. The innovation of these advanced metal alloy powders are opening the doors to more advanced use of 3D printers in various fields. This means more cost savings because the energy output is lower.

While the technology is there, and the public is ready, the cost of these printers may slow them down. They can be quite costly. Many companies have considered buying them, and some have made the investment. You can expect to spend thousands of dollars for a home version. Yet, think of the costs of TVs. The latest models usually cost several thousand dollars, and then go down in price as newer iterations are released. You can expect the same for 3D printers.

The future is now

The companies that do invest in 3D printers will find that it can pay quite off quickly. Fads come and go, but 3D printing is here to stay. There is just too much opportunity to cut costs and create better products in a way that is faster, more convenient, safer and more budget-friendly. Even though some raw materials are needed, the potential to cut almost 90 percent of raw material need for each created product is astounding. You can even create airplane parts made using 3D printing.

3D printing is taking fashion and many other industries to the next level. This is due to the advancing technology of the printer themselves and the metal alloy powders used. Whether it is clothing or food, we can use 3D printers to design our lives. There may be a time when every household has three or four 3D printers just as they have multiple computers per household today. So, what’s next? More energy-efficient 3D printers with improved output.


Katrina Manning is part of the content marketing team at Ink Toner Store. Her writing and editing services have been in demand for the last six years, and she has contributed to a variety of websites and publications. She enjoys covering SEO strategies, tech, business and lifestyle.