3D printing is not a completely new advancement. It has actually been around for about 20 years or so. The idea is that layers are placed on top of each other and a 3 dimensional product is built up. You could say that wood cutting and engraving using machines are the earliest forms of three dimensional printing however the technology is developing so rapidly that we might see some of these forms of machines in the office environment. Imagine being able to print a replacement arm for your office chair?
Or perhaps even create a laptop stand for use at your office desk? It used to be that machines that have the capacity to do this cost more than £100,000 however now, like most trends in technology, the prices have fallen to a level that is affordable even to consumers. Makerbot is a typical example of how this type of technology can become affordable. This machine uses a process called extrusion to develop their 3D objects. A spindle of plastic is unravelled, melted and then fed through the printer which builds the object up layer by layer.
You also don't have to shell out a fortune on CAD programs, Makerbot allow you to use free design software programs such as Google Sketchup to design your object. So where do we see this in the office? With this type of machinery in the office you would have the ability to print your own stationary; this may be something simple such as a paper clip to as previously mentioned, a new replacement arm for an office chair. It is also thought that in time if the machines are large enough, we could see other small forms of office furniture being produced. If one of you seats on your cafe chairs in the break out area breaks, within minutes you can print a replacement.