3D Printing is One Step Closer to Home Use

January 18 (RIA Novosti) Tech industry enthusiasts have called three-dimensional (3D) printing one of the hottest technological advancements expected to go mainstream in 2013.

At the forefront of the innovation for mobile devices is cell phone maker Nokia, who on Friday announced the release of the 3D-printing Development Kit (3DK) that will allow users to create their own customizable back shells for its new Lumia 820 handset.

“You want a waterproof, glow-in-the-dark phone with a bottle-opener and a solar charger?” asked the company’s community and developer marketing manager John Kneeland in a company blog post.

“Someone can build it for you — or you can print it yourself,” Kneeland said.

If you are unfamiliar with 3D printing here’s how it works: Rather than creating a detailed object by sculpting it from materials, computer savvy consumers can create designs online and download them, turning them into functional replicas of the physical objects, creating them layer by layer.

“We are going to release 3D templates, case specs, recommended materials and best practices — everything someone versed in 3D printing needs to print their own custom Lumia 820 case,” Kneeland said.

Experts have predicted the 3D printing industry is expected to see tremendous growth in the near future as consumers begin to understand the potential of the new technology, but cost still remains a factor.

“3D printer parts are still more costly than parts for machines that produce items using preset molds to be beneficial at the consumer level; they are much slower, and the materials used for printing are also more expensive,” said Salim Essaid, technology reporter for Time magazine.

A quick online search shows the cost of an at home 3D printer ranges from $3,000 to $30,000.

The sex toy industry is also getting in on the 3D printing act. The startup company, the New York Toy Collective is using the technology to make custom sex toys modeled after your own body parts.

At a promotional event last month in New York City, for $250 customers could have their body parts scanned from multiple angles to create a series of detailed 3D digital images.

The digital files were then transferred to a 3D print shop. The end product is a customized, dishwasher safe, silicone sex toy designed to match the customers’ skin tone, Time magazine reported.


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