A Future 3D Media Problem

By on June 27th, 2008 in blog

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We’ve been thinking about the future world of 3D printing, where theoretically everyone has a 3D printer at home, probably sitting right beside their 2D paper printer. We predict a printing media issue will develop. What might that be?

Consider the current situation of 2D paper printers: your 2D printer requires media (ink & paper, but let’s talk about the ink). To refill your 2D printer, you must purchase a cartridge of ink from the manufacturer. Oh wait, you have to purchase up to Four Cartridges containing all the necessary spectrum of colors. The ink in these cartridges is consumed as you print.

Transform this to the analogous 3D printer scenario: your 3D printer requires print media (essentially a chemical goop of some kind) that will no doubt be a proprietary mixture available only from the manufacturer. Do you need different colors, like we do with 2D printers? Perhaps. But it gets worse. You may need print media of different quality! Consider these characteristics that you might look for on the box labels at a future 3D media store:

  • Strength. How strong is the resulting object before it breaks?
  • Malleability: How bendable is the resulting object?
  • Temperature: How hot or cold can the resulting object get before it breaks down?
  • Weight: How heavy is one standard unit of the media?

And there are probably even more characteristics. Color we mentioned above, but it likely won’t be a characteristic of the 3D print media as that would imply our media store would require a lot more shelf space to accommodate all the required colors! Instead we suspect 3D printers will simply mix in coloring as the objects are printed. However, this means our 3D printer will also require a four-color ink cartridge just like your 2D printer!

So just as our print supplies today include color cartridges and a small selection of paper types, our 3D print supplies will include multiple bottles of differing media – and the color cartridges too.

By Kerry Stevenson

Kerry Stevenson, aka "General Fabb" has written over 8,000 stories on 3D printing at Fabbaloo since he launched the venture in 2007, with an intention to promote and grow the incredible technology of 3D printing across the world. So far, it seems to be working!

1 comment

  1. An issue which is frequently addressed. You might want to go back and read some announcements from material suppliers as you may find the occasional mention of this issue in their announcements.

    You might also want to read this old post that relates to the topic of how to “dial in” appropriate materials: http://blog.rebang.com/?p=36“ REL=”nofollow”>”White Biotechnology”

    While you’re at it, you might want to get a jump on some patents awarded to an Australian company; patents which will probably have a significant future impact on 3D printing. You can search for it on my blog.

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