If you think that 3D printing is only for making prototypes, then you’re undoubtedly not seeing the exponential increase in its use. Sites like Mashable have this 3D printing category with lots of stories, MAKE magazine has their Ultimate 3D Printing Guide, and there are even videos about this printing revolution like this one from Christopher Barnatt, a futurist in the UK.
But it wasn’t until this morning’s news feed that I first realized that 3D printing has gone far beyond typical object creation and now toward flexible, wearable, 3D printed clothes!
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Stratasys is the world’s leading 3D printing technology company behind this new wearable 3D printed clothes proof-of-concept. They are right in my back yard here in Eden Prairie, Minnesota and is one I’ve kept a close eye on for some time.
Stratasys completed their merger in December of 2012 with Objet, Ltd., a company that provides, “…3D printing systems, resin consumables, and services worldwide. The company’s printers use its proprietary PolyJet inkjet-based technology, resin consumables, and integrated software to create 3D models directly from computer data, such as 3D CAD files.” Basically they had an industrial-strength, world-class capability to deliver 3D printing at scale.
Of course, the next phase of this 3D printing revolution is for designers and creatives to build products, prototype them on desktop 3D printers, and send the files to a service bureau…just like the “old days” of desktop publishing where files ended up at a printer who would print, bind and box publications by the thousands or millions. Same concept here: if Stratasys can turn their 3D printing process from design-to-prototype-to-manufacturing (with full service and support Objet offers) then they will “own” the process like Heidelberg did for hundreds of years with printing presses.