On Tuesday night during his State of the Union speech, President Obama outlined his views for the future of the economy and America’s foreign policy as expected. What may have come as a surprise was how he jumped aboard the bandwagon of a technology that is revolutionizing the future of design.
“Last year, we created our first manufacturing innovation institute in Youngstown, Ohio. A once-shuttered warehouse is now a state-of-the art lab where new workers are mastering the 3D printing that has the potential to revolutionize the way we make almost everything. There’s no reason this can’t happen in other towns.
So tonight, I’m announcing the launch of three more of these manufacturing hubs, where businesses will partner with the Department of Defense and Energy to turn regions left behind by globalization into global centers of high-tech jobs. And I ask this Congress to help create a network of 15 of these hubs and guarantee that the next revolution in manufacturing is made right here in America.”
The 3D printing industry has been slowly developing over the past few decades. As the timeline by T. Rowe Price below shows, the process has become cheaper, faster, and more diverse. You can now print in a wide variety of materials, from nylon to 14-karat gold.
Obama’s pledge to fund research into the industry has already had an effect, as companies involved in 3D-printing saw their stock prices rise.
It is unclear if 3D-printing will follow the path of the personal computer. Computers went from the expensive and clunky tools of professionals and hobbyists to total ubiquity in our world. Whether we are all printing our own spare parts for a broken bike or designing our own models and toys remains to be seen. For now, the president hopes that this technology is the next big tool used by designers, and that America will be at the forefront of 3D-printing technology for years to come.