Elon University

A vision for the future

This is one of nearly a thousand foresight statements shared by people from around the world. To return to the Voices of the People home page or to refine your search, click here.

Name: Stuart D

From: Wisconsin

Bio: Student-Internet user

Area of Expertise: Advocate/Voice of the People

Topic: Technology

Headline: Online Shopping: Plan to Printing at Home

Nutshell: 3D printing of objects off the internet into the home using specialized printers


From eBay to Amazon, almost anything can be bought via the internet, but we still depend on shipping companies to deliver the products. It is possible we could have the item created in our homes. The technology is already there to print objects three dimensionally – prototyping labs can scan a 3D model, and then use a specialized printer to make an object. This is done by systematically applying layer upon layer of plastics or other material. Eventually the technology could arise that will be able to “print” objects in ANY material, for instance, shoes, printed with layers of whatever modern fabric.

Perhaps at first the printers will be set up at kiosks around cities, and people will pick up their objects after they order them. Eventually consumers might be able to buy their own printers for home use, thereby printing their orders online directly in their own home. Of course, a copyright system would need to be in place to buy in bulk for multiple types of items, to prevent illegal proliferation of self-printed items.

This “self printing” obviously has negative effects on the department store and retail outlet market, as businesses would be completely erased with the introduction of and increase in popularity of these printers.

Date Submitted: September 29, 2008