What if Your World Was 3D Printed?

In the far future, manufacturing may have completely ceased to exist, replaced almost entirely by in-home 3D printers capable of making complex, multi-material goods to your exact specification. Lucy Ingham considers a world where you can make anything you want at the push of a button

You wake up in just another day in the 22nd century.

Rolling out of bed, you remind yourself that you really need to refresh the mattress; it takes less than an hour to break apart the current saggy iteration into the hopper in the corner and reprint the salvaged materials into a brand new springy version, but you keep forgetting to do it.

Sitting up, you manage to utter the word ‘breakfast’, and the wall in front of you changes to display a host of stunning menu options, perfectly tailored to your exact nutritional needs. There are a number of staples, as well as a bar marked ‘trending’ showing recipes that have risen to wild popularity among people matching your profile over the last few hours, and will likely sink into obscurity just as quickly. You name your choice, and a noise from the far wall indicates your food has begun to be prepared.

A few seconds later it is done, and you approach a now-open shelf to pick up the bowl of mush that sort of resembles the glittering image you had looked at moments before.

As you eat, you mutter ‘clothes’ and the screen changes to show you a host of outfit options, as well as an error message: insufficient materials. You sigh, and look around the room to find last night’s discarded garments in a heap on the floor. You pick them up and shove them in the hopper, before returning to your breakfast to decide what to wear.

The screen shows a host of the latest fashions – which change weekly and sometimes even daily – as well as some celebrity-endorsed and branded styles that will incur an additional charge to your account if you select them. You go for a relatively sedate, non-premium option, and by the time you finish your food the garment is hanging in a previously empty closet next to the food outlet.

Dumping your now empty bowl in the hopper, you dress and turn to your room. It’s empty, save for a bed and a few small electronics in a hatch next to the headboard. You do have enough hard material stocks to print more furniture, but the space isn’t exactly large so you have to keep it clear of clutter.

However, tonight you will be bringing back a guest, so you’d like to make the place look a bit more welcoming. You ask to see room settings, and the screen changes to show a selection of interior looks algorithmically designed to match your tastes. You make your choice, and tell the screen to have it ready by six.

Now time for work, which means it’s time to walk past the thousands of other doors in this block alone that disguise identically spec’d, yet utterly unique, apartments, each one changing almost daily to match its owner’s needs and whims.  

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