It would be a little too premature to say that 3D printers cannot become household products. In the past, technology has given birth to various products that were never thought of or considered to be too luxurious items to be owned by everyone. Times changed and this very technology seeped into every house and into every individuals pockets. One of the greatest examples of this is the cell phone. Way back in the 1980s no one would have imagined every individual on the street to be carrying a phone on him. Same can be the case with the 3D printer.
In the present state a 3D printer is used for industrial purposes and is used for materials like plastic and metals. It aids in bulk production of goods with uniformity among them. This eases production processes and brings about consistency in the goods produced. If this technology is developed for everyday household use it is sure to have some impact on the economy. To what extent this may be is yet to be seen as it is not only the machine that plays a deciding factor but the raw materials associated with it.
There was a time when a paper printing machine was a rarity and one had to depend upon an external printer to get every small printing work done. Times have changed and printers are available in almost every house. But with this the supply of printing paper has always been there to support this need.
The 3D printer will have to have a similar support system to allow this printer to get its due popularity. And if this is met the economy is sure to undergo a huge upheaval. Procurement and possession of goods will no longer be difficult as it will be easy to produce replicas. This might also lead to many goods seeing a dip in value.
On the contrary, another aspect to be considered here is the fast pace that life has adopted in the past couple of years. Where everyone prefers going to readymade stuff, including food, will anyone have the patience to ‘print’ goods at home? It might prove to be a fascination in the beginning but gradually die out. Where it will be most popular may be the small industries.
These are all ifs and buts that are being considered about a situation that may be faced some five years from now. Till then there might be a lot more changes taking place in the economy and technology side that may add new dimensions to this debate. Until then, the 3D printer is definitely a product being greatly awaited.