Abu Dhabi Media Summit: Disney chief sees 3D printer in every home

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The head of Walt Disney predicts that 3D printers will be in every home within a decade, saying that such technology will “revolutionize” the media industry.

Andy Bird, chairman of Walt Disney International, said the technology – which allows consumers to make three-dimensional models from downloadable designs – will “revolutionize” the way the industry works.

“I think every home within 10 years – probably less than that – will have its own 3D printer, just as many homes now have a 2D or laser printer,” he said.

The technology has uses in the media and entertainment industries, Bird added. These include printing Star Wars dolls with bespoke features for sale at Disney theme parks, he said.

“We’ll be working with technology where we can easily capture the facial features of every guest... and put it on to dolls,” Bird told the Abu Dhabi Media Summit, which started today.

Commentators said the future of 3D printing depends on what is available for consumers to download.

“At the moment, the limitation for 3D printing has been about having 3D digital content. If you don't have 3D data to input, you can't really produce the output,” Ashish Panjabi, chief operating officer for the UAE electronics retailer Jacky’s, told Al Arabiya.

Current uses for the technology include commercial and industrial uses, such as dental and medical uses, Panjabi said.

But more widespread uses of the technology are not far away, he added.

“We're still a few years away where it'll reach mass adoption but we'll start to see some traction in 2014 and 2015,” Panjabi said.

“In the long term, 3D will be everywhere and will change the way we do things. It’ll disrupt supply chains as you don't need to ship spare parts across the world and store them in warehouses, you can simply print-on-demand.”

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