Digital Delivery

Fattened by turkey and basted in wine, the Engineer has returned to enjoy work in a fresh decade. Disappointingly nothing has gone wrong. Nothing to fix, nothing to complain about.

Most are enjoying a few extra days and wont be back till Monday. No hope of any excitement then. Bugger.

In possession of some gifted Amazon vouchers, the Engineer considers the meteoric rise of e-commerce. From the comfort of your own home with only a few clicks all manner of goods can be summoned to your front door in mere hours. Physical delivery of physical goods.

But better still we may now have some of our goods instantly. Movies, music, books, magazines and newspapers – all once physical items, delivered digitally.

Are we headed to more and more physical products delivered digitally. The Engineer thinks so. With Amazon vouchers spent on a photoresin 3D printer (an Elegoo Mars) and an obvious excitement to play with the new toy, the Engineer skipped merrily off to the Thingiverse to download some models to print.

Other than the unexpectedly good output, the printer itself is so simple as to be unremarkable. What is, however, is the existence of websites like the Thingiverse. Not only do they exist, but there are many of them and they’re thriving!

Able to provide the 3D design files of many items, some playful, others more serious and useful, you can now print the goods at home. Need more than one? No problem, print another at minimal material cost. Not quite the right size? Print it slightly larger or smaller. If you have the patience or skill you can even edit the models yourself, or draw your own with a multitude of open source software such as FreeCAD and Blender. Its even possible to copy existing physical items, using software like 3D Zephyr, with little more than a camera.

Clearly its still a nascent technology in the domestic space but as the Badger recently said to the Engineer, “you can see it being used almost as a toy by children”. Having made a few useful parts around the home its still a novelty, but imagine another decade down the line, will we simply purchase the plans for an item, receive it in our email and print to our hearts content? In a century could we be printing our food from big vats of protein, or assembly medication in our own homes from constituent chemicals?

Sounds a little ridiculous but its likely possible. As with all tech though, it will only develop as fast (or slow) as the world allows. There are issues like copyright to be dealt with for instance. But the Engineer for one can’t wait until he no longer must wade through the idiots who walk through you on the highstreet because they can’t separate themselves from their phone…


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