One prediction stuck out as, shall we say, a little less prescient – the idea that 3D printing would become a consumer commodity and rapidly upend the entire manufacturing industry. It’s amazing how completely the idea of 3D printing has dropped off the radar. The 3D printers I tested came festooned with warning stickers; one included an industrial-grade pair of heatproof gloves in the box. My usual modus operandi when testing 3D printers was to kick off a job at 6 pm, go home, drink a bottle of wine, sleep for eight hours, and come back in the morning with crossed fingers to see if anything resembling the blueprint had emerged. Not discouraged yet? All right, let’s imagine that the technology has moved on a few generations, and that 3D printers can be relied upon to produce perfectly rendered reproductions of our digital designs. There’s only one way I can see domestic 3D printing working and it involves electrical component manufacturers creating their own certified 3D printers, with known tolerances and fault-handling measures – and restricting them to printing their own, fully tested and cryptographically-signed designs. It’s now obvious that our hopes for 3D printing were never realistic.

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