Welcome to Throw Forward Thursday, we’re talking 3D printing. Yeah, it’s supposed to be Throw Forward Thursday. 3D printing is Throwback Thursday because it’s been around for decades. We used to call it rapid prototyping where you could quickly make a prototype of something. But about a decade ago, we worked out how to do this in a way that you could buy a 3D printer, put it in your own home. I was the first person that I knew who got a 3D printer at home.

The first thing I printed out was that pink, purple, little plastic deck. He changed the world with 3D printing. Of course, 3D printing, using especially extruded plastic, then allowed you to print out pretty much everything from a smartphone, cell phone cover to a replacement buckle for about two buttons that you might have lost. You could then get a 3D scanner to scan an object and then duplicate it and replicate it.

All of that, we know that’s 3D printing. And when you do that big industrial scale, it changes everything. But now let’s throw forward, that’s what you’re here for, Throw Forward Thursday. What might we be able to 3D print in the future? Well, we could 3D print houses. This is already starting to happen. That I mean, it’s a huge industrial scale. Now you bring in massive scaffolding and you create a scaffolding and then you put some printers to work and you can print out buildings and houses and you don’t just have to use plastic.

Of course, 3D printers can print in metal and polymers and all sorts of other materials. So that’s interesting. And we can obviously in the future 3D print out medicine. I say obviously, because pretty much any time you’re combining chemicals in a very particular format, you should be able to build a 3D printer to do that. I can easily imagine in the future that instead of having to go to the chemist to get a medicine, you go to a chemist and you buy the ingredients and then you bring it home and you print out the medicine. Why would we want to do that rather than have the pharmacist do it? Well, I don’t know. I’m not necessarily throwing us into the future to be practical, I’m just saying what’s possible. And it might always be that you want a doctor or a pharmacist involved in actually creating the medications. But maybe it’s better for us to print out our own medications rather than buying them in a pill box in the future. Who knows? But it is possible we should also be able to 3D print food and they’re already experimenting with 3D printing organic material like a leather company called Modern Medicine.

Meadow’s has been doing this for a while, but now, of course, they are working on creating especially meat replacements, not with using soy and things like that, where you sort of create an alternative to meat, but literally printing out living organs. So let me switch to the medical side, because doctors are 3D printing new organs, livers, lungs, skin, corneas, because, again, once we understand the building materials, which in the case of living tissue is cells and you know, it’s DNA gives us the blueprint, the cells.

And we now understand t cells and stem cells, which are cells that can become anything in our body. So all of our bodies create stem cells, which then get programmed to do certain things because we’ve done DNA research, because we know about the genetic code, we can now programme these things. And so you can programme something to become a liver, you can programme something to become a nice solid steak. And those people who are vegetarians for the sake of the planet.

So it’s not vegetarian for religious reasons or even necessarily for personal health reasons, but they are vegetarians because they don’t want to support the industries that grow cows and sheep and pigs and so on. Well, that’s perfect, isn’t it? Because you can create meat, proper meat without needing the farm and the live animal in the process. 3D printing, it’s more than plastic ducks. It’s everything from houses to new components for cars and machines and electronics to food and biological material and replacement parts for your body.

3D printing. A throw back and Throw Forward this Thursday. Don’t forget, if you’re watching this on YouTube, hit the subscribe button to my channel so that you get notified every time we put a new Throw Forward. So step or just come back next Thursday. We do this every week if you’re listening to my podcast. That’s Graham Codrington’s Future of Work podcast. If you haven’t subscribed to that yet, please do that and write to us on your favourite podcast platform as well.

I’ll see you next week for another visit to the future.

Graeme Codrington, is an internationally recognized futurist, specializing in the future of work. He helps organizations understand the forces that will shape our lives in the next ten years, and how we can respond in order to confidently stay ahead of change. Chat to us about booking Graeme to help you Re-Imagine and upgrade your thinking to identify the emerging opportunities in your industry.

For the past two decades, Graeme has worked with some of the world’s most recognized brands, travelling to over 80 countries in total, and speaking to around 100,000 people every year. He is the author of 5 best-selling books, and on faculty at 5 top global business schools.

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