Spit out of the open mouth of the Makerbot, a complete bracelet lands on the floor. It doesn't lie there for long until it is collected by one of the audience. Three-dimensional printing is ready to conquer the masses. Toys? Cars? Even food? It's all imaginable.
"My six-year-old daughter prints out her own shoes," stated Pablos Holman of Intellectual Ventures Lab, where he is part of a wide variety of futuristic invention projects. "I'm sure in no time we'll be printing out smoothies, strawberries and other foods." Most beautiful to him is that we can all realize our own projects with those machines, from jewelry to robot parts.
"We've heard about parts of micro satellites that have been printed and sent to outer space," said Peter Weijmarshausen, CEO of Shapeways. His company makes it possible to create one single product for the same price as thousands of them. Any material or product is possible as the technology is evolving fast. For now, Shapeways allows users to choose from 25 different materials, including metals, ceramics and glass, in order to give shape to an individual’s product vision.
In the industrial sector where Ingo Ederer works as CEO of Voxeljet, 3D printing cannot be missed anymore. More money is involved here, and bigger printers.
You will know when 3D printing has reached mainstream, Weijmarshausen argued: "when it's not about the technology anymore but when we just like what it provides!" The most alluring characteristic, he said, is that it's environmentally friendly as there is no shipping involved.
I'd like to see children getting taught in school how the technology works, added Erik de Bruijn, Co-Founder and Designer at Ultimaker. In his view, 3D printing will enter the masses within the next five years. He was also the one standing for many hours in the hallways of DLD and enthusiastically explaining anyone interested of what this great new thing is all about, how "it improves people's lives."