The future most envision for 3D printers is that they will just become cheaper and better at doing what they do, hence allowing more people to buy it. However, just as with micro-computing, the most important piece of the puzzle was not the power of the computer or storage capacity, but the operating system. IBM PC allowed the world to adopt an easy to use system for that time, which opened the doors to new more intuitive operating systems like Mac OS, and Windows.
The same thing will happen with 3D printing, the real boom will not be when Prusa comes out with their next printer for DIYers, but when a company comes out with a 3D printer meant to also be used by your grandmother. 3D printers, or as we like to call them, formers, should be connected to Internet of Things. If a printer isn’t connected it’s pretty much useless for interaction with other people. Some printers are already connected to the internet but they could and will become a lot more intuitive as time goes on.
What would be nice to see is a platform where a friend can send something to your printer, and it starts printing an object. Then you get a notification on your smartphone that Jerry sent you something, and when you go check inside the 3D printer you have received a new design for the shoe you’re making together. Once you have it in your hand and take notes of all the changes that need to be made you put it back into the 3D recycler and the material can be reused to form the next thing. Imagine sending something you designed to all your friends but instead sending it through the post, through the Internet.
What will make this revolution even more amazing will be easy to use 3D designing tools such as Windows’ 3D builder or TinkerCAD, which are tools made easy to use on purpose. This combined with features like Adobe’s new Intelligent Assistant, we will be able to talk to our phones and describe what needs to be changed and the changes will take place in front of our eyes. Then, with one click, the object will be formed.