And we may not be too far from that.
Raf Chaudhry, principal learning officer for AET faculty, lives at the bleeding edge of this, and other, manufacturing technologies.
Raf led this September's 8th of the Month session on 3D Printing.
This gave an interested but essentially inexperienced cross section of staff their first practical experience of 3D printing.
And a clearer understanding of what is, and what is not, currently practical.
Slides and other related resources are available here
Three key takeaways were:
- An insight into the process
- An overview of the range of possible products
- Our own rapidly produced 'printouts'
This infographic (from www.onlindegrees.org ) clearly summarises the process...and also outlines potential uses of 3d printing in education.
Raf was equally clear about:
- the drawbacks of scanning,
- skills actually necessary to produce or adapt the input .stl file
- the ongoing maintenance required for the printers.
We got an insight into some astonishing current products largely from industries (F1, health, construction, fashion) with significant resources to invest.
Equally impressive however were the products of technical enthusiasts, many available for download from sharing websites such as Youmagine.
A bit random - and needing guidance in both the design and production - but an example here of a small object, printed in about 10 mins.
In connection with this topic, David Smith from Sheffield Hallam University will talk about his use of 3D printed objects in his 'Engaging Lectures' talk on Wed 16 Dec.
Details / for all sessions are available from CLT's Events and Resources.