Future Friday (def): The future is ________. Future Friday will be a recurring theme apart of ihiji’s blog. We want to start a conversation, what do you think the future holds for software and technology? What technology out there could use improvement? Let’s talk.

When I was eleven years old, I thought that in ten years we would all be flying cars, Jetson-style. Ten years later and I know when I get out at five o’clock, I’ll be sitting in on-the-ground-car traffic and not in-the-air-flying-car traffic. But I have to say, we have really come a long way, even in the printing world. 3D printing in particular. Audry-Tess, one of my colleagues here at ihiji, actually brought this topic to me when I was perusing the web for the next Future Friday post. 3D printing was in the back of my mind and it wasn’t until she sent me an article about Buttercup that I started to research more.

Before, I didn’t know how it worked. I didn’t know the capabilities for 3D printing…until now. First, let me take you through a crash-course of how 3D printing works.

1) You can create a design via 3D printing program or download a design from Thingverse

2) Load it into the replicator program

3) Watch your MakerBot print your design by drawing and layering

If you’re more of a visual learner and you’ve got a spare 3 minutes, you can watch this video.

Now check out some of the cool things that 3D printing is capable of:

– In technology: At Harvard and University of Illinois scientists have created a custom-made 3D printer that has the capacity to print microbatteries (thought to be comparable in performance to commercial ones in terms of charge and discharge rate, cycle life, and energy density). (Source PSFK)

– In music: Fishman Acoustic Amplification uses the Objet Desktop to 3D print fully-functional guitar amplification prototypes. They are able to make multiple revisions to their prototypes in one day rather than wait and miss a sales cycle. (Source YT)

– In space: Made In Space is a company that is developing a 3D printer for NASA to be able to use in microgravity. If successful, this will save resources, cost, be more reliable, and recyclable. (Source Mashable)

– In health concepts (wouldn’t this be cool?): Cortex is a 3D print exoskeletal cast concept that was designed to replace traditional casts. Custom to provide best protection to injury and the best trait of all? Shower-friendly. (Source PSFK)

Crazy, huh? I didn’t think 3D printing could be used in such diverse ways. It’s even used for printing jewelry.

Fun Fact: Using a MakerBot Replicator 2 desktop printer, it would take you 220 years to print enough “modular bricks” for a typical two-story, 2,500 square-foot home (Source)

These aren’t flying cars, but maybe in 10 years I’ll be able to print one.

To infinity and beyond!

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