Saturday, July 09, 2011

How 3D Printing Will Revolutionize and Revive American Manufacturing in the 21st Century



Forbes (Rich Karlgaard) -- "The transformative technology of the 2015-2025 period could be 3D printing. This has the potential to remake the economics of manufacturing from a large-scale industry back to an artisan model of small design shops with access to 3D printers. In other words, making stuff, real stuff, could move from being a capital intensive industry into something that looks more like art and software. This should favor the American skill set of creativity."

Amazing, revolutionary potential here for manufacturing and even for medical applications like organ replacement.  According to Autodesk CTO Jeff Kowalski, because of 3D printing, "The next five years  in manufacturing are going to be substantially different than anything we've seen before.  With 3D printing, production and complexity become essentially free.  3D printing will make manufacturing localized, customizable and accessible, with no penalty for personalization or complexity.  It's entirely possible that the U.S. could see self-sufficiency and a self-sustaining future."

HT: Tom Sullivan

Related video on 3D printing via Cafe Hayek:


24 Comments:

At 7/10/2011 2:23 AM, Blogger juandos said...

How cool would it be to have one of these 3 D printers on your desktop for less than $1800?

 
At 7/10/2011 4:10 AM, OpenID Sprewell said...

Seems like a lot of hype and a technology in search of a use. The Economist had a cover story on locally generated micropower in 2000, but we have yet to see any meaningful deployment of such smart grids anywhere a decade later. The fundamental problem for these 3D printers is how often does one buy physical goods anyway these days? They're not going to spit out complex devices like a smartphone and most other physical goods last a long time, so you're not going to use the flimsier version from a 3D printer. Even the use for budding inventors seems overblown, as they can probably just send their CAD drawing to a local manufacturer for some prototypes. I'm all for pushing this tech to see where it goes, but barring some breakthrough, I doubt it goes anywhere.

 
At 7/10/2011 6:31 AM, Blogger David said...

@Sprewell
I would have to respectfully disagree. I think that it might be a bit of a nitche market right now but I remember reading awhile back about how Jay Leno uses them to do rapid prototyping of parts for his classic cars.

Also by cutting R&D costs it might allow companies to experiment more. There are still a lot of mechanized items that we use every day (cars, door locks, elevators, etc) that could benefit from cheap innovation.

Also I have recently read that firms are starting to experiment with metal printing which would allow for finished products. Imagine being able to give your hand size and favorite color an getting a custom tool (or chair, lamp, window frame) in return. It would make these items so much more affordable.

 
At 7/10/2011 6:45 AM, Blogger Rufus II said...

It took 100 years between the "discovery" of the electric light (arc) and edison's practical electric lightbulb. Another 100 years, or so, for LED lighting.

There is no telling where this will lead in the future.

And, who cares? It's really neat. :)

 
At 7/10/2011 8:43 AM, Blogger cluemeister said...

The most important question is not whether it will revolutionize the way we live, but is it "green"?

 
At 7/10/2011 8:50 AM, Blogger Rufus II said...

Efficiency is almost always "green."

The key to this, I believe, is you can input a 3-D Drawing (all draftsmen are doing them, now,) from, say, India, and the tool will pop out in Podunk, Ia (or the moon, or ......)

 
At 7/10/2011 9:33 AM, Blogger morganovich said...

this is a bit of an overstatement.

we have invested in this space (3d systems - DDD).

it's not as cheap or as fast as they are making out.

this will, for the forseeable future, be used for prototyping and some limited customization.

such parts also, of necessity, are made from a very limited choice of materials and therefore have limited aps.

these are photoreactive resins. you put then in a vat and use the intersection of lasers to harden them. you get parts made from a few kinds of plastics.

you can do some cool stuff. i have 2 linked pieces of plastic chain on my desk with no seams at all (impossible using any other type of production).

but you cannot create a rubber hose, or an exhaust manifold. kowalski is just hyping his market and overstating the case.

this is NEVER going to be as cheap as, say, die cast, nor as fast, not will it have the materials choices.

this "diamond age" future he is hyping is still fantasy.

this stuff is useful, but the biggest companies in the space are doing $200mm in revenue.

it's a bit early to be talking about "revolutionizing the economy".

this sort of tech does not propagate at internet speed and, until we figure out how to do it with useful metals, is going to be of limited application.

the metal products david mentions need some very serious breakthroughs before they will be anything other than a bench experiment.

david, you also need to realize that leno might well use them as prototyping, but when it comes time to actually make a part, it's not done on a printer.

"Also by cutting R&D costs it might allow companies to experiment more."

this has been going on for a decade. it's how every consumer electronics product in the world gets mocked up. but none are produced this way (nor would they look at good if they were, this tech makes very ridgey, striated materials)

 
At 7/10/2011 10:13 AM, Blogger Bill said...

The video alludes to the decline in manufacturing in the U.S. Where's the evidence?

 
At 7/10/2011 11:33 AM, Blogger Larry G said...

think computerized tool and die.... still will be pockets of highly specialized manual objects but more and more things quickly prototyped and manufactured.

I would argue that in the end this will mean even LESS physical labor manufacturing jobs and more robots and automated assembly lines and "factories" that have 1/10th or fewer the number of workers as previous operations.

 
At 7/10/2011 12:18 PM, Blogger randian said...

The physics of heat engines make micropower a bad idea. It's too inefficient.

 
At 7/10/2011 1:04 PM, Blogger Ron H. said...

"Efficiency is almost always "green.""

I think you missed cluemeister's /sarcasm tag.



"The key to this, I believe, is you can input a 3-D Drawing (all draftsmen are doing them, now,) from, say, India, and the tool will pop out in Podunk, Ia (or the moon, or ......)"

I thought you had a problem with outsourcing, but here you are using an example of drawings made in India.

 
At 7/10/2011 1:11 PM, Blogger Ron H. said...

"this is NEVER going to be as cheap as, say, die cast, nor as fast, not will it have the materials choices."

Thanks for the reality check. It's easy to get excited while watching that amazing video.

An accuracy of 3 microns is mentioned. It's not clear how that's possible with a hand scanner. There's a big piece of explanation missing in that area.

 
At 7/10/2011 7:40 PM, Blogger morganovich said...

they key to cost effectiveness is quantity.

to make 1 cell phone cover, it's much faster and cheaper to use a 3d printer.

to make 100,000, it's much cheaper to cut a tool and stamp them out of a press.

somewhere in the middle, there is an indifference point (assuming the materials work). it's much closer to 1 than 100k.

 
At 7/10/2011 9:25 PM, Blogger Trey said...

Let's not forget that computer chips are made by the similar methods. In the case of chips, both additive (coat and deposit) and subtractive (etch) methods are used to build a 3d structure with 20 nanometer features. Many of those chips are being employed right now so that you can read this.

 
At 7/11/2011 8:18 AM, Blogger morganovich said...

"Let's not forget that computer chips are made by the similar methods"

trey-

no. they are not.

chips start with a substrate (usually a silicon wafer). layers of conductors are laid down evenly (CVD, sputtering), then etched (using masks) polished, etc and then overlaid with new layers.

that is not similar to 3d printing at all.

in 3d printing, you are using the intersection of lasers to harden polymers in a vat so that they take on solid form. there is no etch, nor deposition, nor substrate.

if you think these 2 methods are similar, then i suspect you do not understand how they work.

 
At 7/11/2011 9:09 AM, Blogger George said...

Not at all clear where this will go.

At the present time, the mechanical and thermal strength of printed components is limited.

 
At 7/11/2011 9:39 AM, Blogger juandos said...

M says: "in 3d printing, you are using the intersection of lasers to harden polymers in a vat so that they take on solid form. there is no etch, nor deposition, nor substrate"...

All very true but given time and a little more investigation into different systhetic resins and other parts of the EM spectrum there just might possibly be something that will allow a form of 3D printing of processors or memory chips in the not to distant future...

I remember when not so long ago people supposedly in the know laughed at the idea of using a typical 32 pin impact printer or in some case a jet ink printer to print up templates for use on t-shirts...

 
At 7/11/2011 11:36 AM, Blogger bcarl said...

A 3D printer that will help revolutionize and revive American manufacturing is 2BOT's ModelMaker. It is different than most 3D printers: www.2bot.com/product-info

 
At 7/11/2011 11:58 AM, Blogger Larry G said...

if 3D printing technology is something that anyone in any country can buy and use then isn't it liable to be a job killer in terms of conventional manufacturing jobs?

 
At 7/11/2011 4:08 PM, Blogger juandos said...

"if 3D printing technology is something that anyone in any country can buy and use then isn't it liable to be a job killer in terms of conventional manufacturing jobs"...

Hmmm, sounds like Obama's whine about ATMs...

 
At 7/11/2011 9:58 PM, Blogger Trey said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

 
At 7/11/2011 10:06 PM, Blogger Trey said...

Morganovich, my main point is that there are similarities: in either case we are building 3d structures from the ground up. Yes, there are a lot of differences. Additive processes are getting all the attention, but in the future, they will be combined with subtractive methods (machining) as well .

 
At 7/12/2011 6:15 AM, Blogger Ian Random said...

I like the metal ones better:
http://www.lookoutnewspaper.com/top-stories.php?id=470

 
At 7/19/2011 3:14 AM, Blogger adelaide printer said...

printing services by 3D printers are mind blowing.great..

 

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