One of the most interesting areas of tech development is the future of 3D printing. This field opens up a whole new world of possibilities for various different industries. The cost of 3D printers has been rapidly declining over the last few years, leading to more and more adoption of the technology in the mainstream consumer market. However, the current method utilized by today’s 3D printers has some serious weaknesses.
The majority of 3D printers available to consumers today use an additive layer deposition method, which deposits the material an object is composed of one layer at a time. As a result, the output is relatively limited to simple solid objects or components for larger, more complex projects. However, applying electronics to these objects still requires the use of pre-manufactured components.
Voxel8 was founded by Jennifer Lewis, a Harvard professor with a passion for innovation. There are many 3D printing companies that are concentrating on the bottom end of the market where it is a race to make products less expensive. However, Voxel8 is working on the other end of the spectrum, and they are attempting to design a printer that can take on more complex tasks. Although current 3D printers can use ink that has conductive capabilities, at its core they are still very basic. Voxel8 has designed an ink that is roughly 5,000 times more conductive to electronics, which opens the door to more complex actions and production. This is ideal for carrying fast-moving currents such as those in tiny motors. The good news for Voxel8 is that there is more demand on the more expensive side of the business. Most of the time, the average consumer is not going to go out and spend several thousand dollars on a 3D printer because they have no business use for it. However, there are many companies that could quickly turn a $10,000 investment into something that makes more money on the back end.
One of the biggest barriers to 3D printing becoming more mainstream is cost. The Voxel8 3D printer currently costs about $9,000 which is on the higher end of the spectrum. However, instead of viewing this product as an expense, a smart business should view it as more of an investment. To be on the leading edge of 3D printing is a huge advantage in the marketplace. Companies like Voxel8 are going to keep innovating in order to improve the 3D capabilities and price point. At the end of the day, the technology in a 3D printer has the potential to change how many industries operate forever. The sooner that the technology increases and scales the total price down, the sooner this technology will become more adopted and mainstream.
Future of 3D Printing
3D printing is one of the most exciting areas of tech development today. Think of all the possibilities that are available in various industries with a fully functioning 3D printer. Not only is the cost much lower than typical production, but there is an ease of access that is unmatched as well.
The consumer electronics industry will likely be affected the most by the technologies that Voxel8 is pursuing. As the resolution for the circuits it can print improves, there may come a point where consumers will have the ability to sophisticated microprocessors at home. This would have significant implications for the tech economy. The practice of releasing incremental improvements to make the previous iteration obsolete can only work when the means of production are limited to industrial competitors. When consumers gain the ability to manufacture these items at home for a fraction of the cost, planned obsolescence will be much more difficult to pull off. Tech giants like Apple, IBM, and Intel will have to make bigger jumps in their iterations to create products that can’t be replicated by the consumer.
Much like the internet revolution, the more innovation that occurs, the more possibilities are opened up. Jennifer Lewis has done a great job scaling up Voxel8 to where it is today. However, she knows that her work is just starting in this field. Voxel8 and other 3D printing companies have the potential to change the world, and over the next couple of years the innovation out of the 3D printing market should reflect that.