A few years back I read the Cory Doctorow book Makers. It is a very interesting look at the future of technology and one of the things which made a big difference in the future of technology was 3D printing. People no longer needed to go to Wal-Mart to buy small things like kids’s toys or even tools. Instead they just printed whatever they needed on commercially available 3D printers. Need a new wrench at 3am to replace some car part I’ve never heard of? Print it. Heck, need the car part? Print it.  Even if you need a cup holder for your car you can print it.

Printers are available which print with all sorts of different materials. I’m particularly excited by the ones which print in food. Yummy. However more practical are the ones which can print in metal or ceramic. Perhaps soon you’ll no longer go to Canadian Tyre to get that 5/16th socket you’re missing. Even if you can’t afford your own 3D printer a local print store will soon crop up.

When the book came out it really was a futuristic technology. I think that has changed today. Microsoft announced that Windows 8.1 will have support for 3D printing out of the box.

Microsoft is not really a very exciting company for the most part so if they’re adding support for 3D printing that means that 3D printing has moved from an experiment to a consumer-grade technology. Once the world of rapid prototyping 3D printing is starting to become actually useful.

Printers are still pretty expensive. This MakerBot Replicator 2 is over $2000

rep2<em>carousel</em>470x410_1However that isn’t going to last very long. Every week on Kickstarter I see new printers which are popping up and are far cheaper than MakerBot’s offerings. I was particularly drawn to this Buccaneer printer.

buckaneer

Smaller than the MakerBot printer the rest of the specifications seem to be very similar.

Local manufacturing using 3D printers and milling machines is going to change the world. Mass production reduced the cost of goods but also removed the ability to customize the output. 3D printing brings back the customization while keeping the low price of mass production.

Exciting. 58 hours left on the buccaneer kickstart at the time of writing. Do you think my wife will mind if I buy one, or four?