3D printing seems to be everywhere. Search on YouTube or on Kickstarter and you get plenty of hits. The technology and the ideas are not new – MIT professor Neil Gershenfeld illustrated the power of this technology in his 2006 TED talk about the Fab Lab project – but decreasing prices of 3D printers, entrepreneurs looking for business opportunities and trekkies seeing their replicator dream coming true might be the main reasons for this rise in popularity.

With all this hype, you start to wonder if 3D printing is the next new thing in digital. Will Chris Anderson, who left his editor-in-chief role at Wired last year to become CEO of a robot/3D/drone-startup, be for 3D printing what Bill Gates was for the computer industry? Will we soon all have 3D printers on our desks and in our homes?

In an interesting talk at General Assembly‘s New Year Resolutions event, James McBennett of the start-up Fabsie helped us to see the real disruptive power of 3D printing: it is not a game of selling these printers to everybody, but a game of changing the value chain of product development. In a world where 3D printing would be the norm, prototyping will be quicker and cheaper and designs can be transferred via email and printed anywhere. Online market places will be able to link designers with printers/producers. And companies that will embrace this new technology will even be able to provide spare parts online, letting their customers download and print the piece that needs replacing.

Fabsie is focussing on ready-to-assemble furniture and will start selling its first product – This Stool Rocks – in February this year. And a bit of googling sketches which other directions this movement can take:

the geeky one: on Thingiverse, a platform/marketplace for digital designers and 3D printers created by one of the manufacturers of 3D printers MakerBot, you find the Utah Tea Pot, a hommage to 3D icon Martin Nuwell;

the kinky one: on MakerLove you get the free code to 3D print a vibrator with the head of Justin Bieber (!); or

the ambitious one: in a recent post on the architecture and design blog of the Guardian, Oliver Wainwright talks about a project by Dutch architect Janjaap Ruijssenaars in collaboration with mathematician and artist Rinus Roelofs. They have designed a residence that they hope to start constructing using a 3D printer.

The revolution is out there, the choice is yours, don’t be late!

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3D-printed house by Janjaap Ruijssenaars