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3D Printing + AR: Making Headlines Together

Augmented reality (AR) and 3D printing are two hot words you would probably hear at big technology showcases around the world ­– no wonder they have been making headlines since early 2016.

What are 3D printing and augmented reality?

Although 3D printing has been referred to as a ‘futuristic’ approach by many, it has been around for as long as three decades. 3D printing simply means transforming a digital design into a physical entity or object. A 3D model is first created by designing different elements of the model in layers and then printed using a 3D printer. 3D printing helps you with an idea end to end – from the concept and prototype stage to its creation stage.

Augmented reality, on the other hand, brings you closer to the real world. It integrates real-world scenarios with computer displays to enhance how you smell, hear, see and feel things around you. It allows you to superimpose computer-generated content over a live image of the physical world. One of the most common uses of augmented reality is when you visit an automobile website for a custom build of your new car, and you experience a 3600 view of your vehicle as you customise it.

3D printing + Augmented reality: Can they meet?

These two technologies are proving to be a catalyst in revolutionising many industries such as retail, healthcare, automobile, education, etc.

A lot is being done to explore the opportunities that lie in combining 3D printing with augmented reality. Some big players in the market are well in different phases of their development process to see the outcomes of this technological combination. Sony is exploring augmented reality glasses while the social network giant Facebook acquired Oculus in 2014 to mark its entry into augmented reality.

Combining 3D printing and augmented reality gives tech giants an opportunity to preview their 3D designs in real-time before they print them. In common language, while on one hand 3D printing helps accelerate the engineering and prototyping processes, on the other hand, augmented reality helps to trigger the process of modelling before a design can be sent to a 3D printer.

It will not be long when we will start to see the outcomes of the amalgamation of these two technologies in all spheres of our life. Imagine being presented with a virtual customer service experience – when you visit an online shopping store, you can talk to an avatar of a customer service representative to have a better shopping experience.

Fujitsu, one of the leading information and communication technology companies in the world, collaborated with a construction technology firm late last year to develop a 3D augmented reality system that has proven to not only be environmentally safe and friendly but also reduce the time it requires to inspect manufactured products to one tenth.

So the implementation and testing of this hypothesis is already yielding some exciting results and proving beneficial to businesses.

Linking augmented reality with 3D printing adds a new dimension to technology. A lot of work on this combination is happening in the real estate industry as well where architects are offering their clients 3D printed structures combined with augmented reality models to present to them what their renovated house can look like from the interior – that too right on their smart phones. Combining these two technologies creates a digital animation of a physical model that lets clients virtually walk inside their renovated house and feel what the experience is going to be.

What does the future hold for this combination?

It is only a matter of time when we will start to see the amazing combination of 3D printing and augmented reality influencing every sphere of life and make everything from shopping for clothes and shopping for Lego for kids to buying houses and customising cars so much simple.

While 3D printing gives us powerful digital designs, augmented reality serves to expand our minds and knowledge of the real world to provide innovative multi-sensory environments. The combination of these two can only lead to better and improved digital designs.

Some trends for this combination that you can see in 2017 can be a rapid expansion of how you experience things on your smart phones, improved online shopping experience and much improved and innovative Google and Apple devices. Just keep an eye as these hit your doorstep!