Good morning all!

I hope it’s been a good week for you all, and that you have a pleasant weekend planned.

Today I’m reflecting on a trade show I visited yesterday to find out a little more about 3D printing, as well as see some of the latest third party accessories for the Apple market. This particular show normally runs a couple of times a year, and I used to look forward to it as there was usually a whole raft of new iPhone/iPad/Mac toys to look at and play with, but over the past 12-18 months it seems like the innovation is beginning to dry up in this area. For example (and this product wasn’t on show yesterday), one of the recent announcements for iPhone accessories was an alarm clock that emitted a bacon smell to get you out of bed! I’m still not 100% sure this is genuine, but it is good indication that many of new things are very gimmicky with no real benefit to the buyer.

However…….the main reason I went along yesterday was to get a better understanding of 3D printing. And it was a real eye-opener.

Imagine if you will an inkjet printer, that instead of squirting ink onto paper, squirts molten plastic onto a slowly descending platform, allowing you to build layer upon layer of plastic into a 3D model. That’s 3D “printing”. Already used in engineering and medical fields (one man had his face ‘rebuilt’ using parts printed on a 3D printer), I can see a huge future in this market (analysts are expecting the 3D printing market to grow by 70% in 2014, and similar levels the following year), with education, architects and product designers likely to continue growing the use of this technology. It’s certainly not a manufacturing process,but it does allow people to very easily (and very cheaply compared to using a model-making company) build prototypes and models for one-off use (e.g. for architects).

One thing that did surprise me was that this technology is not new. The first 3D printer was launched in 1984!! But it wasn’t until 2010 that a desktop model was launched, bringing it into the mainstream. It’s not often that a technology comes along that seems a huge change to the industry, but I genuinely do see 3D printing as something really exciting. It remains to be seen what uses people will find for the technology in the next year or two, but there’s definitely a huge amount of potential.

I’d love to hear your thoughts, and if you’re interested in learning more, please let me know via email, any of our social media pages (see top left of this page) or the contact us page.

Have a great weekend!