FORT COLLINS - It's a technology that President Obama mentioned in the State of the Union address: 3D printing. The technology, which starts as a computer design and ends as a solid object, is taking hold worldwide.
"Almost everything will be 3D printed in the future: Clothing, shoes, food, jewelry, automobiles, homes," Terry Wohlers said.
Wohlers is a Fort Collins-based 3D printing expert who consults for the White House and the country of Australia, among others.
"3D printing is to take a computer model, a 3-dimensional model, and to slice it up into thin horizontal cross-sections, digitally, and then to print each of those cross sections layer after layer," Wohlers said.
Schools and businesses around Colorado are using 3D printers.
One Fort Collins-based company, Cyclopital 3D, is using 3D printing to create camera accessories for 3D cameras.
"This is a new industrial revolution for manufacturing," Tanya Alsip with Cyclopital said.
The company doesn't need expensive molds. Instead, they design the parts and own the printers, and they ship their products worldwide.
"It gives us the ability to create niche products in low volumes and be able to deliver them," Alsip said.
Whether it's a niche product or a mainstream one, 3D printing is already being used by many large corporations to build scaled-down prototypes of intricate parts. The technology is advancing.
On Monday afternoon, Wohlers pointed out many 3D printed items in his office that included a guitar, a hip implant, even a glove.
Though many 3D printers are entering the consumer market, Wohlers believes that people will pick out the designs and have others print them in the future. He doesn't believe everybody will own one.
(KUSA-TV © 2013 Multimedia Holdings Corporation)