With 3D printers now becoming readily available – it was recently announced that a well-known American high street chain will be selling them in a few weeks – it could mean more than just a new toy to play with in the house, it could change the way we consume forever.
Here at TonerGiant, we’re always interested and keen to find out more about new technologies, so we thought about how 3D printing, and it made us think, it could really change the way we live!
We will be able to simply ‘print’ spare parts, consumables and things we need.
In today’s world of mass produced consumables, 24-hour shopping and throwaway culture, we probably spend way too much on things that aren’t going to last us very long. It’s those last-minute, unorganised rushes that lead us to make irrational decisions. I myself am guilty of buying things ‘in the moment’ that I wouldn’t normally need to when time pressures and certain circumstances arise. I’m not talking about general purchases here, because most of the fun and joy in consumerism, is picking out something you really want, and researching and finding out loads of information and generally enjoying the process. I wouldn’t advise anyone prints a new car, bike or polo shirt, because I’m sure we all love our designer brands and respected manufacturers. I’m talking about the purchases we don’t enjoy.
A good example is a few days before a holiday, you need some flip flops or a hat, and you don’t have time to shop around for a bargain, so you end up purchasing whatever’s easiest or quickest, and this is usually not the cheapest! Another case is when something breaks, maybe a part of your camera, phone or laptop, you just end up taking it to the nearest electrical repair shop and paying whatever they tell you for something you quite frankly have no idea about! It is these kinds of purchases that often leave us all with a physical feeling of guilt and regret, even though we needed those items. We generally feel helplessly robbed.
With a 3D printer in the household, and soon-to-be thousands of downloadable design files, we could soon eradicate the need for last-minute, rushed purchases and replace them with thoughtfully planned, sensible downloads. Now this is not to say that emergencies will never occur, of course they will, but when they do, we will have a well-stocked stash of printing materials and access to an abundance of downloadable design plans!
With branded products comes heavy-duty packaging, and often a lot of it. When we’re able to print our own spare parts and products, the need for transportation, delivery and recycling is reduced completely. This brings us a number of brilliant environmental benefits, including less petrol used for transportation, less waste to throw away and many more. This means we can concentrate on transporting the important things recycling more produce. It is only through small steps that big changes and advances can ever happen!
Back to The Future: we will become a smarter breed of consumers overall!
Besides seeing how things are made and starting to realise what we do or do not need to be wasting thousands of pounds on, we will have a completely fresh outlook on consumerism as a whole. The world will be full of people who have come seemingly full circle to a time before mass-produced products and changing trends.
We may go back to the days where we had shoemakers, watch makers and key-cutters filling the high streets. Only it will be 3D watchmakers, customer phone designers and draw-your-own jewellery stores dominating the internet! Why would we pay for highly priced, mass-manufactured goods when we can get something tailored to a design we drew up ourselves?
This may be a far-fetched look into the future, and it may be some years until this happens as many of us are brand loyal and love our trusted products, but if you look online at sites such as lifehacks you’ll see that there’s an anti-consumerist uprising starting in many communities. Once people build up a reputation in making and selling 3D goods, there’ll be no limits to where it could take us in terms of a complete culture-change. Now, there’s food for thought.