About 30 years ago, my father bought the first personal computer we had at home, an IBM-compatible 286, with 2 MB of RAM and 20 MB of hard disk, enough to house the MS-DOS operating system, the text editor Word Perfect, something similar to a spreadsheet, and the occasional video game. I also buy a huge, noisy and slow dot matrix printer to print the documents hed created with the text editor among which were some of my first school works.
All that gadget of devices, screen, keyboard and diskettes came accompanied by a whole library of books that taught you from the assembly of the tower, to the operating system commands, the keyboard shortcuts of the text editor, and some basic notions of BASIC programming. Computer science was a closed field to a few who were willing to learn on their own, who were not afraid to type and experiment with commands, and who saw great potential in that technology. Home and office level computing did not yet exist.
And the million dollar question at that time. And what is that for? Now it is a compulsory subject in schools and highschools, it is used in all areas, from uploading photos to a social network, to printing a ticket in a neighborhood store. Everyone knows how to edit a Word document or make a PowerPoint presentation. Any phone has a million times more capacity than that old 286, and it is rare the home where there is no PC and a printer, and in case there is no printer, you can approach a cyber cafe, printing press or shop and for a little money and a few seconds they print you in full color any document or photograph. Even in the aisles of shopping centers you find automatic kiosks that capture photos from your social networks and print them to you on the fly in photographic quality.
The same happened with the first modems and the start of the internet, mobile phones, and even home automation.
We have become accustomed and adapted to home computing, to the use of the Internet, and we see it as something not only normal, but necessary in our lives. 30 years ago, if you had asked me, what is that for? I could not have answered you, because you would not have understood the answer. Today, if I ask you that same question, you wouldn't know how to answer me, because you wouldn't understand the question; Your answer would be Its for everything.
Well, now we are in a situation like my father was 30 years ago. I have a 3D printer, and people ask me, and what is it for? And no matter what explanation you give them, their faces are of not having understood anything.
Right now 3D printing is for ... EVERYTHING! From printing a piece that you need to repair or improve a piece of furniture or appliance, make a special or complex tool, experiment with impossible shapes and configurations, make high-quality models, create your own robot or drone, or simply to make small toys and decorative figures As I said, it works for everything.
It is not necessary to see it as a business, remember the first paper printers, or the first CD and DVD burners, I do not remember anyone who became a millionaire with that, although they tried to charge exorbitant amounts for any commission. This is the same, you have to see it as a domestic tool, not as a business opportunity to hack action figures. The prices of 3D printers will go down, and their quality and speed will improve, and over time they will become a regular peripheral in any home or business.
Possibly in a few years, 3D modeling will be a compulsory subject in schools and institutes, and smartphones will incorporate 3D scanners to capture volumes and environments in high quality. When this happens, in a few years, we will no longer ask ourselves what this technology is for, we will simply not conceive of life without it.