The future’s so bright I gotta print my own shades.
Yep. It’s coming folks.
The death of the High Street shop. The death even of the internet mail order vendor.
At some point in the near future, when we find that our Breville sandwich toaster has gone on the fritz, we won’t bother heading out to Curry’s or surfing our way to Amazon to buy a new one. We’ll merely download a set of instructions from the internet and print a new one off in the comfort of our very own home.
The technology behind 3D printing is becoming more and more commonplace. Less of a freaky Tomorrow’s World prediction for AD2450 and more of a marketing forecast for AD2018. Google can already present you with hundreds of images of items fresh off the 3D printing production line.
What is amazing about them is their sheer diversity and complexity.
Our children are going to grow up in a world where people print their own cars, print their own tools and print their own kitchen appliances. And that’s just for starters.
On the face of it the technology of “distributed production” is awe inspiring. The command of science and physics involved in the process is incredible. The fact our species is making it all so commonplace and open to the general consumer is even more phenomenal.
But, of course, there is a disturbing dark side to this huge leap of technology.
It’s bad enough people downloading bomb making instructions without them being able to print off a real bomb directly from the internet. Not to mention grenades, knives, AK-47s and tanks. OK. Maybe tanks is a bit farfetched but the technology will reach that point one day. The MoD won’t bother with manufacturing plants; it’ll just have a warehouse with a huge eff-off printer that will print off whatever military hardware it currently needs. And you can bet your freshly 3D printed bottom dollar that there will be shady organizations all around the world with enough money to purchase such an eff-off printer for themselves... and suddenly, hey presto, as Prince, memorably sang a couple of decades ago, “mommy, why does everybody have a bomb?”
Rules and regulations will need to be put into place and they will need to be constantly monitored and policed. Kind of the way they are now to stop people pirating music, images and films off the internet.
OK. Maybe that’s not such a good example...
On the lighter side of it all though the technology should enable us to not only print something from a supplied design but also allow us to customize it to our own – to make it truly bespoke. I mean, who wouldn’t want a personalized Breville toaster with wings and built in Wi-Fi?
And why stop at kitchen appliances? What about bedroom appliances?
3D printing will revolutionize the porn industry.
No more plain brown paper parcels (batteries not included) from Sweden. No more avoiding eye contact with the postman or the FedEx courier when he drops off your latest blow-up sheep from Germany.
Soon you’ll be able to design and print off your own to your own personalized specifications. You’ll be able to tweak every fold and crevice.
Just make sure you always have a good supply of “ink” to hand.
Nothing will be more galling than running out just as you reach the good bits...