A few years ago, we were promised 3D printing would transform the world. In 2011, The Economist featured a 3D-printed Stradivarius violin on its front page, claiming that 3D printing “may have as profound an impact on the world as the coming of the factory did”. These enormous hopes for digital fabrication, and especially 3D printing, may have seemed overinflated. But perhaps the impacts are finally materialising.
The last few years have seen a steady period of experimentation and incremental technical advances. Fabricators realised that 3D printing had many limitations that needed to be taken on board for its successful application. In addition, the public’s initial excitement seemed, to many, slightly overblown. But despite this, enthusiastic claims about the technology should not be considered utterly absurd. The technology and its applications just need a bit more time, testing and evaluation to enter into our everyday lives.