Futurist Predicts the Path of 3D Printing

By on May 21st, 2015 in Ideas


Futurist Dr. Ray Kurzweil was asked by Huffington Post for his predictions of the future. He had much to say about 3D printing. 

Kurzweil is a long-time inventor, but more recently he’s become famous for his reasonably accurate long-range predictions of technology advancement and usage. Currently, he’s Director of Engineering at Google.

What are his predictions? Let’s hear it right from the futurist himself:

By 2025, 3D printers will print clothing at very low cost. There will be many free open source designs, but people will still spend money to download clothing files from the latest hot designer just as people spend money today for eBooks, music and movies despite all of the free material available. 3D printers will print human organs using modified stem cells with the patient’s own DNA providing an inexhaustible supply of organs and no rejection issues. We will be also able to repair damaged organs with reprogrammed stem cells, for example a heart damaged from a heart attack. 3D printers will print inexpensive modules to snap together a house or an office building, lego style.

Let’s discuss each of his three predictions. 

Kurzweil predicts a future market in 3D printed clothing. Currently there is almost no market for 3D printed clothing, with the possible exception of small fashion accessories, such as 3D printed nails. One of the key challenges is the ability to 3D print an entire outfit in a single print operation within today’s restricted build volumes. Some experiments have been done to tackle the highly complex task of mathematically folding a 3D model into a volume that would fit within a printer. It seems to us that this is a solvable problem, and combined with improved and cheaper materials, Kurzweil’s prediction could become a reality.

His second prediction envisions a world where bioprinting is feasible and used for a multitude of purposes. There’s definitely a lot of work underway in this area currently, but the more we read about this topic, the more issues and challenges surface. Could enough barriers be overcome in ten years to achieve this vision? We think this prediction may take longer than ten years. 

The third prediction suggests 3D printed pre-fab building components will be widespread. This actually could happen, and a lot sooner than you might think. There’s already a company in China experimenting with this approach and apparently it’s their intention to set up regional facilities to produce 3D printed pre-fab buildings. It’s still unclear whether this is a financially viable venture, but we’ll soon find out. 

So, in our opinion, that’s two likely’s and one possible. Let’s watch these unfold over the next few years. 

Via Huffington Post

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!