3D-Printing-RevolutionIf CES 2014 showed us anything, it's that 3D printing is here to stay, and that it's only going to get bigger and more important as time goes on. CES was filled with exciting new 3D printers, new software and new examples of what this technology could do. The prices of devices like the Da Vinci and the accessibility of the new Makerbot printers show how this technology could finally be commercially viable. In short, 3D printing is gaining momentum and pretty soon we'll probably all have some in our homes.

Are you ready?

Learning to Model

The big question really here is: how do you become ready? What can you do to prepare, and how should you expect things to change?

Well to begin with, although 3D printing technology is likely to become increasingly more accessible for non-techies, it's still going to be a while until your Grandma can pick up one and start making furniture. Thus it would be highly useful to start to learn the basics of how 3D printing works, so that you can start creating your own designs and printing the ones you find out there in the world.

That means learning to use 3D modelling software in particular, or at least learning what 3D modelling files are and how they work. My advice here is to try downloading a free piece of modelling software such as Blender, and having a play with it while watching some YouTube tutorials to get a good idea of how it works. It could also help to download some 3D printing apps which offer different models just to get an idea of the kind of thing that can be done with these printers.

Likewise it can also be useful to start learning a bit about how 3D printers work, what their limitations are etc. You can get a great deal of information on 3D printers online, or from reading books and a lot of this reading is very fascinating. Why not spend some time doing some reading so that you're clued in once this technology becomes a big deal? It will help with the future shock if nothing else…

3D Scanners

Something that could also be incredibly useful as market penetration increases would be to invest in a 3D scanner which will allow you to easily scan objects in the real world in order to create 3D files. This will then allow you to fix broken items by scanning them in and making repairs before reprinting them, to make accurate models of objects (and even people!) and more. You can have a lot of fun with a 3D scanner, but they're also a very practical utility when combined with a 3D printer.

Printers

Once you've done this you should of course invest in a 3D printer – or at least get saving for one. This is one of those objects where even if you don't have an obvious use for it in mind now, you will do by the time you get one. Describing the application of a 3D printer is tricky, as is imagining how useful it can be – so instead why not try buying one and seeing for yourself just what you can do with it? A great place to start is with something more affordable like the new DaVinci, but really anything you start with will give you a good idea of where this technology is heading and help to prepare you for when it takes over!

Of course you may not be quite ready just yet to put in the amount of investment you need to buy a 3D printer – so instead why not check one out somewhere else? There are many shops these days that offer 3D printing, many schools and other institutions that have them on site and many other tradeshows like CES that are demoing them. Why not do some research and see if you can't meet one in person? The thing is – then you'll be sure to want one.

The contributor of this article, Shruti Vaghe, is a freelance blogger currently writing for Artec 3D Scanners, a company providing best quality 3d scanning services. Whether it is on a trail or a bike lane, Shruti loves cycling and mountain biking.