3D manufacturing technology is about to disrupt our post-industrial skills-based economy the same way desk-top printers revolutionised the publishing industry.
We’ve heard of 3D printers. Cubify and Makerbot have been selling home-3D plastic printers for years now – and you can now get your very own small, portable 3D desk-top printer right here in South Africa from CAD House for less than R10,000 – making them as accessible as the first desk-top printers were in the 1980’s.
The machines come with software that can be used with simple cloud-hosted open-source designs so you can design and make pretty much any small object you want or need.
This means you and your kids could soon be designing and printing your own toy furniture, scale architectural models or lighting design prototypes.
And the printers don’t just print in basic plastic anymore either. You can now get working 3D printers that manufacture objects in various more durable, useful materials; such as ‘Vader Systems’ aluminum printer which prints models in molten metal.
Just ten years ago, if you had wanted to design and manufacture an object, such as a vase or a shoe, it would have been a complicated, expensive process.
First, you would have had to employ the services of a skilled CAD or computer design operator to translate your paper sketch into a 3D, technically correct computer model using their expensive, difficult to operate computer software
Next, you would have to commission an artist to make a scale sample of the object – a costly exercise.
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