Industry Update: The Next Industrial Revolution

In the last 100 years, the world has seen more technological innovation than in its entire history. It started out in the 1700s with the simple steam and water power. These lead to steam engine generators, and the widespread use of electricity to power everything from lights to motors. As humans do, the more we learned, the more we grew and innovated. Electricity provided the spark that allowed us to create computers in the 1900s, and with computing power doubling or more every few years, it sometimes seems like we’re well on our way to a future where robots do everything for us, from manufacturing our goods to writing our blog posts.

And yes, biologists, this applies to you, too. A team of biologists at Harvard have started creating flowers in a process they call “4D Printing”. Looks like we’re all going to be learning this new skill set sooner or later–unless, of course, we invent robots to do that learning for us soon.

These days, we can 3D print anything from action figure replicas of ourselves to firearms. It’s not hard to imagine someday using 3D printers to even make our food. In fact, one company has already produced such a device, allowing users to load ingredients and have food created for them from the comfort of their own home. Don’t get too excited–it’s not available for retail yet and is projected to cost around $1000 when it debuts. Still, it continues to show that 3D printing technology has nearly unlimited applications.

What would you print if you could print anything? Let us know in the comments.