“Artists imagine the future. Engineers build it.”

Last November a visitor to the Hidden In The Hills art studio tour made this point, and I think he’s right. Star Trek proves it, and now that we are presented with this amazing technology of 3D printing, artists are part of the phalanx of people pushing this magic to new places.

Talk about magic! This recent advance  reported by 3DPrintingIndustry.com  will revolutionize electronics. Who’d have thought of 3D printing cellulose like ink to conduct electricity. Our world is about to change in ways we cannot now possibly imagine.

That being said, I was sitting around with some friends the other night, discussing how 3D printing will have influenced our world in just 10 years ….

Most of the huge advancements, of course, will be in the medical and commercial sectors. I can’t even begin to imagine the advancements in those fields. I have thought a lot about how it will change our lives personally, though.

By 2025, we will be sending objects much like we send faxes today (remember when faxes were the coolest thing ever? Well, only if you’re over, say, 50, but still, at one time it was a big deal to add your fax number to your business card).

We will have another appliance in our homes, a 3D printer. It will probably be made by a large appliance maker like LG (one of the few appliance makers left), and you’ll be able to get your 3D printer in various sizes, small, medium and large. You might have one in your workshop, too, where you can make tools on demand – or download them, printing them in metal.

Say you want to replace a spatula that just broke. You’ll download the plans – by then probably an enhanced .STL file – from the Internet directly to your 3D printer. You’ll choose what color and type of filament you want to use, and you really will be able to just the push a button and walk away! On deluxe models you’ll be able to choose different types of filament, including various materials like wood and metal.

Yeah, this is awfully close to teleportation (thanks again, Star Trek!), and we’re a lot closer to that magic than you may think. According to this  Telegraph article, German engineers are slicing and scanning physical objects (destroying them in the process) and “reconstituting” them at the other end, using a 3D printer.

Obviously, it’s still pretty rudimentary, but yeah, we’re really, really close to being able to transport objects through thin air.

Will I be able to create my art on one end and have it printed on its new site? That’s an interesting possibility, although I admit that I think I will always want to make some things by hand.

That’s happening with my 3D printed sculptures right now because I’m doing the 3D printing. If the 3D printing process was being done somewhere else by someone else on another 3D printer, that may well affect the sculpture’s “spirit.” When you know you can send a print and it’ll come out exactly as you specified, that may not be a problem. We’ll see how it continues to evolve.

That being said, there will be a lot more exciting developments beyond 2025, maybe things that will eclipse 3D printing ….