It’s exactly what it sounds like. It’s a wall-mounted unit no more cumbersome than a washing machine, looks kind of like a really big paper towel dispenser with Wifi access. Here’s the design web site by Serious Super Genius Joshua Harris, which tells you everything you need to know. I’ll just go ahead and recap it here, in case you don’t feel like clicking a link (I’m not going to steal his pictures though, so you should) and so it will count as a daily post.
Harris spends a really short, efficient amount of space explaining that by 2050, most people will live in cities, and as such, we’re not going to have much space per person. The middle class might be sinking, but so will our apartments it seems – Harris cites 220 square foot micro-apartments already being built and utilized in several major cities.
Then he points out that on average, Americans throw away 68 pounds of clothing per year. We have it made by cheap labor overseas, we wear it for a bit, and then we get rid of it, and that’s horribly inefficient.
So instead we’ll buy the templates, the designs just as easily as we buy files on iTunes. And we’ll buy cartridges with the various materials – blue cotton, red linen, etc.
Then we load up the program for Blue Sweatshirt, and hit print. Out pops a blue sweatshirt. I don’t know what the hell they’re going to do in the Third World, a buck a day stinks but it probably beats the hell out of zero.
Hold on, I changed my mind, I think I AM going to steal one of his pictures. I’ll just act dumb if he shows up and hollers at me.
Ah there it is. All of this, he claims, can be done with existing technology, so it’s not like we have to wait til 2050. And he did it for some kind of project, while the rest of us watched Breaking Bad and Facebooked and wiped out noses on our sleeves and then discarded the clothing at the park in a drunken stupor. Seriously, go click the link, I think I just stole that. He’s going to be mad.
But then, just listen. Because you might be thinking, Well hell, if we can all print clothes out as simply as yanking a paper towel off the roll, then won’t we just throw away more clothes?
And the answer is no, because instead you’ll recycle the clothing back into the printer, and make different clothing out of it. The clothes can be easily reverted to the base substance from the cartridges. When you are finished with your blue sweatshirt, you can feed it back in so that it’s recycled for the next Blue Thing you need.
You don’t keep your clothes in a closet anymore, you keep them on your laptop! They’ll think of closets like 8 Track Tapes!
It’s like we’re cavemen and Joshua Harris just pulled out a shotgun. All Hail The Big Brained Man With The Boom Stick!
Why isn’t this man in charge of everything? Does he think anything else? We should listen to this man. Does he have a North Korea Reverse Printer? It can’t hurt to ask.
I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to freak out, but that’s basically a primitive replicator from Star Trek Mr. Harris is talking about, nice and casual. That’s what 3-D printers are, too. They’re teleporting and replicating stuff, more and more complicated stuff all the time.
I knew they’d get around to teleporting things, but I always thought of it like The Fly. Someone figures it out, and bam, that’s it, now we teleport. Get yourself some new jobs, truck drivers, cargo ship crews, and dirigible pilots. But no, it’s just like bandwidth or the speed of microprocessors or any other technology. They get it working so poorly that it’s barely useful, then improve it every year til pretty soon Professor Moriarty escapes from the Holodeck and you have to outwit him for realsies.
Not all fun and games though. Here’s a guy in this NPR article who can print you an assault rifle with a 3-D printer. Not joking. Go ahead and take away the guns, it’ll be like taking your kids’ cassette tapes away. How else are they going to get their hands on music? The Internet?
That guy’s a licensed gun manufacturer now, by the way. Why are we having a gun debate again? The gun guys won, dudes. If you take away their guns, they’re going to print out new guns except they’ll still be all mad about the last set of guns you took away. Maybe we can get the clothing printer to print us all out some bullet proof vests, yes?
So something tells me that if we’re talking about clothing and guns, well – those aren’t the only things that can be 3D printed.
Here’s a guy trying to print out a house. Hell yes, he is, go look at him: Dutch Architect To Build House With 3D Printer. Not a shack, either, a 12,000 square foot house. The printer doesn’t print out the whole house, it’s like Super Legos or something.
This is all happening. It’s apparently been happening a while. You can print objects now, and we’ve decided not to call it teleportation so nobody freaks out about alien-human hybrids who barf on your boyfriend’s foot and eat it.
Food? You buy nutrient packs like ink cartridges, then stick them in there and out comes crackers and beef jerky and quiche? Go ahead and tell me they can print out clothing and guns but not quiche. I assume the Super Deluxe model will be able to take my shirt after I eat ribs, and then separate the food from the clothing, stick them back into the right cartridges. You dry cleaners can go ahead and get new jobs, too.
Okay then. I’m good and freaked out. You guys have a lovely Sunday.