House & Home

3-D Printing is Amazing!

Posted September 12, 2013

I am totally into 3-D printing right now. People, the future has arrived! We are able to input some information into a computer, and moments later, it will spit out a whole printed new thing! How amazing is that?! Okay, I will stop with the exclamation points now, but seriously, I'm really excited about the potential for this technology, and I'm not the only one.

Sure, it's great for novelties. And it has a lot of applications in science and medicine. And it's fantastic for interior design, where it allows people to fabricate amazing things that are hard or expensive to make via other means. But have you thought about the implications of 3-D printing for home construction and improvement?

For one thing, advanced 3-D printing technologies are already being used to produce furnishings, and the same technological principles can be applied to things on a much larger schedule. Like, say, houses. A massive 3-D printer could fabricate components of a flatpack house, for example. Better yet, recycled materials can be used as raw materials for construction of objects with a 3-D printer, which brings about the best of both worlds.

And there's some seriously great potential for home improvement. Fixing things around the house requires a lot of fiddly bits and parts: have you ever wondered why contractors, plumbers, and other home improvement professionals have to have such big rigs to carry all their stuff around in? It's not just the gear they carry, but also the parts: pipes, wiring, nails and screws, washers, outlets, and so much more.

What's better, a truck full of parts that still can't carry everything you could conceivably need, or a truck with a 3-D printer in the back? I think we know the answer to that question. 3-D printing can enable rapid production of parts on site for new construction and repairs, including clones of objects that might be difficult to obtain on the current markets, such as odd-sized parts or antique hardware.

And for those of us playing along at home, 3-D printing right from your computer means no more going to the store six times in an attempt to find the right-sized washer for your sink, or searching for screws of the right length of a project. Just scan the existing item and wait for your printer to do its work, rapidly fabricating what you need so you don't have to waste time and you can focus on getting your project done. Bonus: you will save a ton of money.

The technology behind 3-D printing is getting better and better by the day, and it's also declining rapidly in cost. More affordability makes it accessible to a growing number of homeowners in addition to businesses; a 3-D printer in the back of an Atlanta roofer's truck may not be such a far-fetched idea in a few years, which is a pretty exciting thought.

Katie Marks writes for

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