The Biggest Key to Making 3-D Printing Commonplace at Home

While investors and the public alike continually hear about the grand potential of 3-D printing at home, the mainstream argument leaves a lot to be desired. How will I ever be able to design a replacement door handle for my 1975 Ford Mustang with no computer-aided drafting skills? The answer to that question and the biggest key to 3-D printing for the average Joe is simple -- 3-D scanning. In the following video, Fool analysts Blake Bos and Isaac Pino discuss the current state of 3-D scanning and what 3D Systems  (NYSE: DDD  ) , Stratasys  (NASDAQ: SSYS  ) , and Makerbot are doing to be part of it.

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  • Report this Comment On March 16, 2013, at 1:41 PM, rsinsheimer wrote:

    As an engineer for over thirty years, it seems to me that you guys have really been listening to yourselves too much. There is no need for 3D printing in he home, any more (in fact much less) than there's a need for 3D television. Using your own example, even if I *did* need a replacement door handle for a 1975 Mustang, today's (or even tomorrow's) technology would only allow me to print one out of plastic. I'd be much better off going to the junkyard and procuring a real one.

    You say "Aha! -- what if it's a part for my '29 Duesenberg?" OK, Jay Leno, you should have your rusty one scanned (as the article says) and have one printed at a service bureau that can print a metal part.

    Just as most people still have photographs printed for them, I don't see the average Joe or Joan doing this in his/her home, at least not for decades, when it becomes trivial and we can walk up to the Replicator and say "Earl Grey, hot."

  • Report this Comment On March 16, 2013, at 8:49 PM, TangoXray7 wrote:

    I think the brief comment that "you might not have it at home but you might go down the street" needs to be underlined. With the diverse nature of 3D printers available today (and prices that vary by orders of magnitude) I don't believe there will be many folks printing '75 Mustang door handles in their garages, but they will be scanning them, sending them to Staples and picking up the part in the morning.

    Quite a few folks don't know that there are 3D printers that work metals. Stratasys doesn't offer one but 3D Systems make at least three different machines that print in metals like stainless steel, tool steal, titanium and aluminum. The machines are expensive but not so expensive that a local service bureau can't run one at a profit if people had 3D scanners.

    I wholeheartedly agree with the commentators that we will see 3D scanners in the home long before we see 3D printers.

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