It seems that not too long ago we were writing about pioneering research into 3D printing and start-up businesses showing off their industrially focused, prototype 3D printers. Now, only a couple of years later there is a growing, consumer market, home-based printers for under $3,000, and even a a 3D printing expo — 3D Printshow. The future looks bright and very much three dimensional.
It is Star Trek science made reality, with the potential for production-line replacement body parts, aeronautical spares, fashion, furniture and virtually any other object on demand. It is 3D printing, and now people in Britain can try it for themselves.
The cutting-edge technology, which layers plastic resin in a manner similar to an inkjet printer to create 3D objects, is on its way to becoming affordable for home use. Some of its possibilities will be on display at the UK’s first 3D-printing trade show from Friday to next Sunday at The Brewery in central London .
Clothes made using the technique will be exhibited in a live fashion show, which will include the unveiling of a hat designed for the event by the milliner Stephen Jones, and a band playing a specially composed score on 3D-printed musical instruments.
Some 2,000 consumers are expected to join 1,000 people from the burgeoning industry to see what the technique has to offer, including jewellery and art. A 3D body scanner, which can reproduce a “mini” version of the person scanned, will also be on display.
Workshops run by Jason Lopes of Legacy Effects, which provided 3D-printed models and props for cinema blockbusters such as the Iron Man series and Snow White and the Huntsman, will add a sprinkling of Hollywood glamour.
Kerry Hogarth, the woman behind 3D Printshow, said yesterday she aims to showcase the potential of the technology for families. While prices for printers start at around £1,500 – with DIY kits for less – they are expected to drop steadily over the coming year. One workshop, run by the Birmingham-based Black Country Atelier, will invite people to design a model vehicle and then see the result “printed” off for them to take home.