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Can You 3D Print Your Own Money?

Although 3D printing started in the 1980s, recent developments have turned this into one of the coolest new technologies of the 21st Century.  Three dimensional objects are formed by building up successive layers of materials in just about any shape you choose.  3D printing, or Additive Manufacturing (AM) as it’s also called, is actually being lauded as the beginning of the third industrial revolution and its’ a disruptive technology that’s likely to change the way in which all sorts of objects are made, there are already 3D printed cars being developed.  It’s the sort of technology that we once thought was only available on sci-fi shows like Star Trek!

It’s being predicted that at some point in the not too distant future, every home will have a 3D printer that can be used to print household objects.  Think about the problem you face if you lose a favourite earring – it may not be that easy to replace and you’ll be left with a solitary unusable earring.  With a 3D printer at your disposal, it would just be a matter of instantly printing a replica at the touch of a button.  What about 3D printing a piece of jewellery that you’ve designed yourself as a special anniversary gift – a unique creation that demonstrates your love and thoughtfulness.  You could turn a simple sketch by your toddler into an exclusive Christmas or birthday gift for a doting grandmother.

Money, Money, Money . . .

So, you would think the logical next step would be to use a 3D printer to print your own money – it’s a bit like being granted a wish by a genie!  We could solve all our financial problems in one fell swoop.  However, it’s not that simple – governments across the world have mechanisms and safeguards in place to foil even the most sophisticated of counterfeiters.  After all, some 2D printers and photocopiers nowadays are so high tech that they provide exact replicas.  Counterfeiting has a long history, it’s been going on since money was first invented and there are anti-counterfeiting measures in place for every currency on the planet.

Counterfeit money has several adverse effects on society, including reducing the value of real money and increasing inflation.  If that were not the case, governments would just print out more money on a regular basis.  There is a software program that has been designed to print money using a 3D printer, but it’s limited to printing cryptocurrency such as Bitcoin – it allows users to electronically watermark barcodes onto 3D printed physical coins and the codes can be tracked online to validate their authenticity.

You Say You Want a Revolution . . .

Although 3D printing money is not possible, there are plenty of ways that you can make money out of 3D printing because the technology is set to revolutionise so many fields of manufacturing.  Body replacement parts will benefit the health industry with prosthetic limbs, artificial teeth and even 3D printed medication.  Jewellery production is a popular application for 3D printing right now.  It’s also possible to print accessories for gadgets and useful items for the home.  We may also see an end to built-in obsolescence in electrical goods as we will be able to 3D print parts that are no longer available from the original manufacturer. 

Early adopters are discovering that there is definitely a market for this space-age technology.  For those who don’t’ want to invest in a 3D printer this early in the game when there are likely to be rapid developments that will render their investment obsolete, there are web-based 3D printing services like mylocal3dprinting that allow people to either commission 3D printed objects or design using a crowd-sourcing model or to design, print and sell 3D printed objects online.  Industry pundits are convinced that 3D printing could revolutionise manufacturing.  According to Terry Wohlers, president of Wohlers Associates the technology lowers the barrier to entry for entrepreneurs and inventors.  He says that “You can design something today and start manufacturing it tomorrow”.

The technological revolution that is 3D printing is in its infancy right now but it’s sure to provide some great business opportunities that will enable us to make money at almost the same rate as if we were just 3D printing stacks of coins.