The second edition was a major update and now, in early 2017, I’ve just read the third edition which is another major update. This latest edition was released in late 2016 and since it’s arrival I’ve been looking forward to reading it during the Christmas holiday period.
Before I continue I just want to say a few things about the author Christopher Barnatt. Chris has been a professional futurist for 20+ years and has published numerous books and articles during that time.
For 25 years Chris was a lecturer in Computing and Future Studies at Nottingham University Business School and is now a keynote events speaker. His popular YouTube Channel has also had over 21 million views to date!
With such an impressive background in technology Chris is more than qualified to write a book about 3D printing.
Going back to the book itself, it was a great read and I learned a lot of new stuff that has been added since the last revision was released around two years ago. A lot has changed in the 3D printing industry in those two years and a lot has changed in this book too.
Interestingly the “Preface” has been renamed to “Preface – Beyond the Hype” in this edition and quite rightly so as there has been a lot of hype in the 3D printing world in the last few years. If you need proof of this just take a look at the Share Prices of the major 3D printing companies over the same period and you’ll see it’s been a rocky ride.
Chapter 1 has also been renamed from “The Next Revolution” to “The Revolution Continues”, which is interesting. This implies that the 3D printing revolution has now begun. I believe it has, but as the book states, this is happening more in the industrial sector than for the home user.
Much of the hype in the last few years was based on the idea that home 3D printing would take off and everyone would be rushing out to buy 3D printers to print their own goods at home. Although some of us (like myself) fall into this category, we’re in the minority and the idea that the masses will be buying and using 3D printers like the do toasters was definitely just hype.
We’re a long way off from this day and it may never happen. As Chris states in his book though, the use of 3rd party 3D printing services is a different matter and has great potential. The average person doesn’t want to purchase or run their own 3D printer, but they might be willing to use a 3D printing service to receive novel, useful or customised 3D printed goods through the post.
Such companies include HP, Ricoh and GE, with companies like Canon and Toshiba looking like they’ll soon be entering the market too.
These companies are not only large, well respected and well known, but they have the money to invest in new technologies which many of the relatively small “3D printing only” companies don’t possess. These are interesting and unpredictable times.
Although I never studied biology at school, the most interesting, exciting and potentially life changing aspect of 3D printing for me is bioprinting. Chris continues to dedicate an entire chapter of the book to this subject and it is well deserved.
Companies like Organovo are already bioprinting living tissues for commercial uses, like testing new drugs for example. Combine this with the amazing natural ability of living cells to arrange themselves after printing to create complex living tissues, you may be forgiven for thinking that Bioprinting sounds like science fiction, but it’s quickly becoming a reality. The potential for In Vivo bioprinting is exciting too. That’s 3D printing living cells in situ, to repair a wound or print an entire organ directly into an animal or human!
As well as bioprinting, there are many other exciting areas of 3D printing which this book details and which are too numerous to list here. Whatever your level of interest in 3D printing, this book provides a great overview of it’s technologies, companies, applications and future potential. In fact ‘overview’ is probably the wrong word to use, because there is a good level of detail in this book about each specific area.
For the 3D printing beginner it’s a great way to become very knowledgeable about 3D printing in a very short time. For the expert, it’s a useful reference and I guarantee you’ll still learn a lot from reading this book cover to cover.
As with the previous editions, I found it useful, interesting and inspiring so I was more than happy to add it to my Recommended Resources Page.
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