Thu Jan 24, 2013, 06:44 PM
Bill USA (4,247 posts)
Our three-dimensional future: how 3D printing will shape (shake up) the global economy
Neils Bohr said: "Prediction if difficult, especially regarding the future." 3-D printing/manufacturing is a good example of a technology that makes predicting the future difficult. 3-D printers are now being manufacured and sold at modest prices (compared to tooling to manufacture most components) like $4,000 and less. THis makes it easier for smaller operations to get started into business. It also will transform manufacturing in a number of ways.
One of those ways is it will lower many manufacturing costs and thus make transportation a bigger part of the total cost of a delivered item.. And that takes away some of the cost advantages of making an item in cheap labor markets which are far away (like South East Asia). H-m-m-m-m, how very interesting.
Lately, it seems like nearly everything has been reproduced by a 3D printer. Between the group that 3D printed a gun, the people who printed a drone, and the army of items sold at this small marketplace for 3D printed goods, there are plenty of novelty uses for these suddenly trendy machines. We’re a long way from 3D printing a house, but it’s clear that the hobby is inching into the mainstream.
Yet it’s difficult not to wonder: at what point will 3D printing move beyond novelty to industry? Will these machines change the way we manufacture goods, and subsequently change the global economy, too? (Is it already happening before our very eyes?)
The answer: yes and no. The term “3D printing” comprises two very different worlds: hobbyist 3D printing, where people with relatively inexpensive machines print plastic objects in the comfort of their homes; and industrial 3D printing, which is usually referred to by another name: additive manufacturing. They are vastly different and will likely have divergent impacts on the economy. Both, however, are poised to alter the way businesses think about production.
Right now, home 3D printing is relatively exclusive to hobbyists and makers. A machine for the purpose costs about $4,000, and typically only prints objects from plastic. For now, those objects tend to verge on the trivial: bracelets, puzzle games, figurines. But some envision a future where people will be able to 3D print replacement parts, or even entire products, at home.
3-D Printing Spurs a Manufacturing Revolution - NYT
A 3-D printer, which has nothing to do with paper printers, creates an object by stacking one layer of material — typically plastic or metal — on top of another, much the same way a pastry chef makes baklava with sheets of phyllo dough.
The technology has been radically transformed from its origins as a tool used by manufacturers and designers to build prototypes.
These days it is giving rise to a string of never-before-possible businesses that are selling iPhone cases, lamps, doorknobs, jewelry, handbags, perfume bottles, clothing and architectural models. And while some wonder how successfully the technology will make the transition from manufacturing applications to producing consumer goods, its use is exploding.
A California start-up is even working on building houses. Its printer, which would fit on a tractor-trailer, would use patterns delivered by computer, squirt out layers of special concrete and build entire walls that could be connected to form the basis of a house.
8 replies, 1847 views
Our three-dimensional future: how 3D printing will shape (shake up) the global economy (Original post)
|Bill USA||Jan 2013||OP|
|Bill USA||Jan 2013||#6|
Response to RC (Reply #1)
Thu Jan 24, 2013, 07:54 PM
Bill USA (4,247 posts)
6. the way things work is you have the very smart people write the software that 'talks' directly to
machine on one end and on the other this software communicates to an operator enabling modification of operations but with a much simpler user interface involved. Thus, the operator doesn't have to be a software developer (that would be much too inefficient).
A number of years ago, I programmed mainframe computers in an ancient language called Fortran (Formula Translation) created by IBM. Not many people learned to program in FORTRAN as it was too difficult for many people to be bothered with. With the advent of massively faster processors more elaborate software was developed which made telling a computer what you wanted to do much simpler. But there is some pretty elegant software, written by very clever people, between the user and the computer that makes this possible.
I think 3-D manufacturing is going to require more highly trained people than current machine operators in many situations in manufacturing... but the some very sharp people will have developed the software that will provide an interface between the operator and the machine. Changing the parameters which guide the machine will not be that difficult, given the software.
... but then "prediction is difficult, especially..." well, you get the idea.
... desiging a new part is still going to require a lot of technical knowledge and expertise (e.g. an Engineer). But going from initial idea to final production standard design, will be much quicker. Basically, the big thing is you don't have to design and manufacture the tools to manufacture your part. THat is taken care of by the instructions to the 3-D printer.
Response to Bill USA (Original post)
Thu Jan 24, 2013, 07:02 PM
FightingIrish (2,361 posts)
2. Mind boggling but fun to tink about.
Many years ago I was in a Navy patrol squadron. We had a electronic gizmo that the pilots used to gain proficiency in guiding a Bullpup missile to its target. People would fight over their turn to play with the machine which had all the stunning graphics of Pong. That technology has taken us to a world where gaming, motion pictures and reality have blurred together. I see the same thing happening with 3D printing, an addictive technology with very practical potential.
Response to Bill USA (Original post)
Fri Jan 25, 2013, 02:06 AM
Kablooie (11,513 posts)
8. There's a new 3D printer store in Pasadena.
They will be selling 3D printers from $850 to $1,495.
The smallest makes 5X5X5 inches and the largest 8X8X8 inches and can print 2 colors at once.
The store is open but the printers are only available for pre-order right now.