Something that I am a huge supporter of is 3D printing. For those who don’t know, 3D printing is where three dimensional objects are made by “printing” thin layers of material on top of each other. Right now most printers are small and use a type of plastic, but the various companies building them are working on making them bigger, faster, cheaper, and using more types of materials to make more complex objects.
I strongly believe that 3D printers will lead to a convulsion in the economy as people print things at home instead of going to a store to buy them. Instead of focusing so much on producing items in factories, our economy will be more about procuring resources to feed into the 3D printers in our homes. Which is where this idea comes from.
It may be possible to genetically modify something like a tomato plant to produce a plastic fruit instead of something edible. But instead of being cheap ornamentation, you’d pick one of these plastic fruits and feed it into your printer whenever you wanted to print out a new chew toy for your dog. People may have a food garden to feed their family, and a plastic one to supply the material to build things for them.
An earlier version of this post appeared on Persona Paper in December 2014.