3D print has been on the fringes of national consciousness for a while, but this is all set to change in October when the 3D Printshow rolls into London; the first consumer and trade show dedicated to showcasing the capabilities of this unique, innovative and frankly mind blowing technology.
No one would have predicted the impact of the steam engine in 1750 or the printing press in 1450 and yet they changed the world; 3D printing is set to do the same.
Today we are more savvy than our ancestors, having being exposed to a stream of technological wonders that have changed our lives, from the introduction of tablets to the stratospheric rise of social media.
Yet 3D print will be arguably more defining than Apple or Facebook, and pundits are comparing it to the impact of the introduction of the internet in 1990.
3D print has until now been the domain of early adopters; a niche community that has been following the advancements of the channel and discussing its merits on technological forums and blogs.
But within months the capabilities will become main stream; on the sofa of Daybreak, the pages of Vogue and the topic of conversation in the pub.
From cups to 3D printed foetuses, the possibilities this technology affords are becoming increasingly clear. And it will impact each and every sector and industry. For archaeologists it is now possible to scan ancient artefacts and print out contents without having to destroy the shell.
For example a mummy has been scanned and the inside printed - prior to this the mummy was believed to be a baby, but in fact was a cat.
In medical sciences doctors are now able to print body parts. Last June, an 83 year old woman in the Netherlands received a titanium jaw implant manufactured for the first time on a 3D printer, and in the third sector charities are also recognizing the potential of 3D print.
3D4D Challenge, a charity that seeks to exploit 3D printing, mobile phone based scanning technology and web based design applications to benefit developing countries, has launched a competition to unearth new groundbreaking ideas to improve the incomes and livelihoods of people in the developing world.
Most recently 3D print technology was used for rapid prototyping to create bespoke helmets for the GB cycling team.
By scanning each athlete's head using 3D laser scans they were able to ensure the best fit for comfort and performance. Quite clearly the potential of 3D print is very far reaching.
But what might it mean for the creative industry?
- As agencies continue to make the move from purely comms providers to strategic consultants and innovation advisors prototyping will become easier and quicker
- Advertisements of the future could carry codes to enable consumers to scan and print the product at home
- Out of home advertising will become more physical as well as easier and cheaper for agencies to produce
- The focus of advertising will move away from finished products towards promoting model designs that consumers will print for themselves
From advertising agencies to shopper marketing, 3D printing is going to affect the whole industry and change the way it works, not only within its current parameters but also in terms of the additional and diversifying services that the creative industry can offer. It’s now a case of watch this space.