3D Burritos and the End of Globalization

Mexican Food. Photo by Pam Lau

Have you seen the Burrit0bot 3D Burrito machine that prints out piping hot burritos? It’s another innovation to continues in additive manufacturing that shows the delicious potential of 3D printing technology.

3D printing is a process of making three dimensional solid objects from a digital model, and it’s set to revolutionize design and manufacturing.

It may even reorganize the global economy.

As 3D printers continue to develop at the current rate, we are only years away from being able to print components, and even entire machines, on demand.

No longer be any need to import goods from the other side of the world, as they will be made locally for the same price. Things will simply be printed out instead of bought. People will buy fewer pre-made products and instead buy the plans to ‘print out’ their own.

3D printers work exactly the same as a 2D bubble-jet printer, except that they build up actual objects, layer by layer. Some printers rely on a mixture of powdered plastic and glue to create objects, while others use lasers to fuse fine layers of powder. The process of building up objects layer by layer is known as additive manufacturing.

It allows manufacturers to make complex objects that are impossible to assemble by any other means.

Currently, 3D printers are used to produce industrial prototypes, specialized medical tools, toys and ornaments. Existing printers are still not sophisticated enough to make commercial objects out of more than one material, although this important step is not far off.

The technology, which is charging ahead as more creative minds test the limits, is set to have a massive impact on a whole series of industries.

Maritime shipping and freight transportation could become no more. These industries rely on the fact that it is more economical to manufacture goods in countries with lower costs of operation, and then transport them to their destination.

3D printing allows manufacturing to take place close to important markets.

3D printing is also much less wasteful that current subtractive manufacturing techniques. By cutting shapes out of sheets of raw materials, they always produce waste.

Additive manufacturing uses only the exact amount of a raw material needed to produce an object. This means that there will be less competition for rare materials in the future, and less fuel wasted transporting raw materials.

Burritob0t 3D Printer - Property of Burritob0t

In the case of the Burritob0t (picture shown above), eating Taco Bell food will not longer require a ‘run for the border’.  You can just buy the Taco Bell branded bean burritos on your next grocery trip and print it out whenever you fancy.

Imagine a world where a broken engine part can be printed within an hour, or complex medical implants are made to fit each patient perfectly. Hospitals will be able to print vital equipment on demand, and stores will never run out of goods.

So far, 3D printing is mostly used for industrial or medical applications. That is changing. As the price is driven down with competition and due to efficiencies in manufacturing, it will become a consumer uber-appliance.

There is even an online tutorial on how to build your own Laser 3D Printer.

It won’t be long before you’ll be able to print your own Christmas presents, or replace a broken ornament without leaving the house.

And if you eat Taco Bell printable burritos too often, staying at home may be a good idea anyway.

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