Why would you want a 3D printer?

Viking 3D printer

I get that question a lot at first - why did you buy a 3D printer? Well I could say I just like to create stuff, also physical stuff and sculpting is a bit tiresome and time consuming ;-). But seriously. 3D printing is another step forward, it's a step beyond 2D. Thanks to projects like RepRap 3D printing already became something that can be used at home. It became affordable.

But what would you do with it? Well, look around. Most of the stuff you use is probably made of plastic. Plastic which - till recently - you couldn't really form at home. All things that break are either glued together or thrown away. What if you could scan and print the broken part? The rest of the toy, TV remote, the mechanism and electronics stays as-is. What's more important you cannot replace many things. Chances are the part is either not sold separately (e.g. TV remotes) or not produced anymore.

Of course 3D scanning is not available for all, but so were 2D scanners. There are devices like Kinnect and it does have the software needed for 3D scanning at home. But you don't have to scan to print. You can draw or ask someone to draw for you. With time manufacturers will probably publish some of their parts projects as various corporations and institutions publish various forms, how-to documents and drawings for everyone to use at home.

Also manufacturers might be interested in this. For example I've recently bought a fender for a bike. Along with it 4 different sized parts that should fit in 4 different bikes. Such a waste. Wouldn't it be better to just publish documents to print at home? People without printers could still buy a bit more expensive version with parts in all sizes. Others would just get virtual parts. You could say - bla, bla, bla. This is science fiction - will never happen. Well it already did happen! Nokia/Microsoft already released documents to print a shell of Lumia Phone.

3D printing is happening now. Maybe not yet like in Star Trek, but we are getting closer. It certainly feels a bit more like 21st century ;-).