Not so long ago 3D printing was heralded as a new technological revolution, with pundits predicting 3D printers in every home on account that printing things would be cheaper than buying them. Today 3D printing is used in industry and healthcare but its wide acceptance in the home still remains far off in the future.
We should not expect large scale use of 3D printing for domestic purposes in the near future
Adviser to the Head of the Analytical Center Yuri Ammosov believes that having a 3D printer in the home is akin to having a garden on your balcony. “If you are middle class, then growing your own food is not only complicated but extremely inefficient as well,” the expert says. “Same rules apply to 3D printing of things you need around the house: this prediction was a huge stretch when it was made.”
In his opinion, the area where 3D printing is going to make a huge change is distribution of goods as it will allow manufacturing to be brought back to the consumers in the developed countries. 3D printing and automated assembly will bring about a new retail model, turning stores into small manufacturing shops that use customized off-the-shelf 3D models to make small batches of goods to order. First of all this is going to affect the manufacturing of kitchen utensils, furniture, plumbing fixtures and toys, in other words items that can be manufactured using modern adaptive technologies that so far only deliver reliable results when making things from some types of plastics. More complex items, including consumer electronics, are only going to be 3D printed when a quick and cheap method is developed for 3D printing with metals, the expert believes.
The issues of 3D printing were touched upon in the report Four Mobilities: Challenge for the World in Russia in 2015-2030 published by the Analytical Center back in 2014. Back then experts were predicting “mobility of things” that would involve the use of 3D printing and robotics to drastically change manufacturing of goods, bringing it as close as possible to the end consumer. It was predicted that 3D printing would be capable of creating high quality complex items from any material in any combination and at price points close to those offered by modern industrial production. This is the point at which many very interesting changes will begin that we have called the second industrialization, the report says.