3D printing or additive manufacturing is a process of making three dimensional solid objects from a digital file. It all starts with making a virtual design of the object you want to create. This virtual design is for instance a CAD (Computer Aided Design) file. This CAD file is created using a 3D modeling application or with a 3D scanner (to copy an existing object). A 3D scanner can make a 3D digital copy of an object. Companies like Microsoft and Google enabled their hardware to perform 3D scanning.
In the near future digitising real objects into 3D models will become as easy as taking a picture. Future versions of smartphones will probably have integrated 3D scanners. It is predicted by some additive manufacturing advocates that this technological development will change the nature of commerce, because end users will be able to do much of their own manufacturing rather than engaging in trade to buy products from other people and corporations. 3D printers capable of outputting in colour and multiple materials already exist and will continue to improve to a point where functional products will be able to be output. With effects on energy use, waste reduction, customization, product availability, medicine, art, construction and sciences, 3D printing will change the manufacturing world .