3D printing is gradually spreading to a number of different industries and sectors. These days, 3D printing is used to “print” medical and dental equipment, smartphone cases, fashion accessories and much more.
And soon, you might even be able to perform a home improvement project with parts entirely produced by a 3D printer.
Home improvement retailer Lowe’s recently announced that it will begin offering 3D printing and scanning services in its stores. The service will allow homeowners to easily design and produce parts for their various projects, along with truly one-of-a-kind decorations for patio designs and the like.
According to an April 29 Wall Street Journal article, homeowners will be able to fully customize virtually any object that they install in their home, from cabinet knobs and door handles to address plaques and wall plates. They can also replicate out-of-production parts that are no longer manufactured, the first time consumers have ever been able to do this in a retail setting.
3D printing, or additive manufacturing, takes a digital image of an object and slices it into thousands of layers. These layers are then printed in three dimensions, one on top of the other, in full scale. The 3D printing process can take anywhere from a few hours to a few days, depending on the size of the part being produced.
Technology experts predict that the 3D printing industry will continue to grow at a robust rate. By 2018, additive manufacturing will be drawing in $12.7 billion in global revenues, up from just $4.1 billion in 2014.
Currently, Lowe’s printing and scanning service is only available at the Orchard Supply Hardware store in Mountain View, CA, or online at Osh.com. Eventually, however, Lowe’s plans to equip all its retail locations with its 3D printing services, along with other innovations like robotic shopping assistants and even virtual reality technology.
Pretty futuristic stuff for a home improvement store!