Rip, Mix, Burn 3d-style – Hacking Objects

As discussed in Netopia’s new report 3D-Printing: Technology and Beyond, today’s technology allows 3d-printing in many different materials, plastic and metals of course – but also concrete, cookie dough, sugar, sand, sawdust, potter’s clay, textile… even living cells to create human tissue. Also composites and complex combinations of materials are possible to print. The possibilities are simply jaw-dropping and this is just today’s technology.

The blueprints that prints are made from can be designed in a computer using 3d-modelling software, or downloading objects from various online sources (potentially making adjustments before printing). It is also possible to scan objects, using specific hardware (such as the MakerBot Digitizer) or even an app for your smartphone camera. Once the object has been scanned, it can be printed of course in as many copies as you like (and can afford the raw materials for!). But you can also make changes to the object, add or remove parts, change surfaces or materials. This is called hacking objects. Cue another jawdrop: the physical objects around us are not permanent. We can change them.

The maker-community Realize, that took part in Netopia’s 3d-printing seminar, has about sixty members. This time last year, it had not yet been formed. Gartner expects the sale of 3d-scanners to increase 49% in 2013. The future will be here in just a moment. Don’t blink!