Often it’s the most unlikely developments that change the world. The invention of the printing press may have turned things upside down in the 15th century, but who’d have thought that a printer could still hold the potential to revolutionise the way we live? Or at least the way we develop, make and buy material products and how this impacts the environment.
Manufacturers still aim to make as many units of one product as possible to enable economies of scale. However, this form of production produces waste throughout the entire process, even to the point where the consumer ceases to value a mass-produced item and throws it away before the end of its natural life. New developments in 3D printing could change the way we look at the scale of production.
3D printing isn’t new. But two related factors – the refinement of the technology and subsequent reduction in price – have accelerated take-up and renewed thinking about its potential.