3D Printing

Author: Brendan

As a member of FirstBank’s Security team I often get to see and play with a lot of cool technology. It’s a personal thrill of mine to watch new technologies emerge and develop. I especially enjoy when something exciting comes out for every day consumers that changes how they interact with the world. Smart phones are one of the better recent examples, for many people it’s become an invaluable personal management tool, well beyond just a device to make phone calls. Every day we do more and more with them, even banking online and paying bills through them. Along those same lines, I see a new technology emerging that is just gaining mainstream attention, 3D Printing.

For those that aren’t already familiar, 3D printing is often referred to as an “additive manufacturing” process. Basically it’s a printer that heats up plastic, and extrudes it through a nozzle in the shape you specify. Then it moves up a tiny bit, and prints it again on top. Using this process it can slowly print out a full 3D object, layer by layer.

So at this point, it probably doesn’t sound all that amazing or innovative. Here are a few examples to hook you on the technology. Using a 3D printer you could:

If you’ve checked out the links above, I’m guessing you would now agree 3D printing is cool stuff. But how does it fit in with banking? The best answer is that right now, I’m not too sure. 3D printing is really in its infancy, and just becoming available for your average person to purchase and use. For less than $1,000 now you can get a 3D printer that fits on your desk. What excites me is that given its unlimited potential and uses, one day it might be common place in every business.

Having tracked the progress of 3D printers for years, and used one personally for a few months now, I can’t help but think it’s going to be as big as the Internet. Right now they seem to get used a lot to build prototypes for small businesses, or household goods such as iPhone cases. The technology is developing so quickly that I could easily seeing it help create a wave of inventors or new businesses. It opens doors up for small businesses and start-ups in remarkable ways. In the future, it wouldn’t surprise me at all to see 3D printers become a fixture in everyday life. I personally look forward to seeing how businesses and consumers across all industries take advantage of the technology.

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