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Manufacturing a Renaissance with 3D Printing (judegomila.com)
80 points by judegomila 1559 days ago | hide | past | web | 33 comments | favorite

I see the same breathless optimism here as in the dawn of the WWW in the laste nineties. People with little to no understanding of what 3d printing is or its limitations, making wild extrapolations that don't take much reality (especially the social, legal, and political implications) into account.

The fact is, we do not have any idea where 3d printing will take us. The idea that we'll all have 3d printers in our home is possibly a bit silly.

That said, I also have a huge optimism for the future of 3d printing. But these use cases thrown around by people often just sound silly to me.

The point needs to be made that 3D printing as "StarTrek replicator" is going to take many many decades. The real big deal is that 3D printing is leading the acceleration of digital manufacturing methods in general (CNC milling, etc.). 3DP is just a good gateway drug for a far larger movement that's beginning to take shape in non-SciFi ways.

I think these types of comments are always needed for people to ground themselves to reality.

Of course everybody wants technology to get exponentially better in the future but like you mentioned, through different social, legal and political factors, it will be extremely hard.

Yeah reminds me a bit of Back to the Future II. There was a fax machine in every room of the house.

Also a lot of people barely know how to work with wood. I'd expect even fewer to understand the basics of material science to work with polymers and other compounds.

If anything we're at the ImageWriter phase of 3D printing. You could print from home but to have anything worthwhile you'll probably want to take it to a shop who'll have better materials and someone knowledgable. That expert will tell you why you shouldn't use your creation to serve food on or that it dissolves when exposed to solvents.

> There was a fax machine in every room of the house.

/house/office and they predicted the future of Japan pretty darn well!


3d printing in our home via cubify.com runs a customer $1300, but no doubt in time that cost will decrease. I say in the next couple of years prices for home 3d printers will be consumer friendly.

On a side note, I think 3D printing is going to hurt many industries and possibly be used nefariously (creating a weapon and or other illegal vices).

I remember when paper printers were the same. We have no idea but we can interpolate from the past.

I can easily see myself owning a 3D printer to make all the various trinkets I would otherwise buy at IKEA or the dollar store. That is if the quality/price ratio increases.

Then you should learn your lesson and invest in 3D stock, ready to pull out when the hype has reached crazy heights :-)

> The idea that we'll all have 3d printers in our home is possibly a bit silly.

I have a 3d printer at home, or at least a half-assembled one :) You can get one for yourself at http://reprappro.com/ . The smaller one is only around $669.

I don't think price will be the limiting factor, rather the fact that most people won't think of a realistic use for them. Look at photo printers, they're getting cheaper and cheaper yet sales are declining since they just don't make financial sense for most people. Most people I know (even many professionals) get many or all of their photos printed by third parties.

Yes, and my electrical engineer friend has built an X-ray device in a briefcase. And it is useful. And a hundred years ago, people were saying that everyone would have an X-ray device in their home. But it didn't quite work out that way.

And yes, I DO want a 3-d printer in my home. The Form1 looks awesome. My neighbor has a Prusa reprap, and it is definitely too finicky for anyone but the most hardcore early adopter types, in my opinion.

I see the same breathless optimism here as in the dawn of the WWW in the laste [sic] nineties.

So in about a decade, most of these predictions should start coming true... except with the acceleration of technology, it might take ~5 years instead of ~10.

I'm completely fine with that.

IMO, we are still a ways away from 3D printing being as disruptive as a lot of people think (at least for home use).

From owning a 3D printer and doing prints for friends in my engineering classes, I think people still greatly underestimate how high touch 3D printing is today.

For example, look at the makerbot google group: https://groups.google.com/forum/?fromgroups#!forum/makerbot

Even looking at Shapeways (an online 3D printing company with really expensive machines), they still deal with quality control problems for the average model someone uploads.

I wonder if LEGO can stave off the doom 3D printing presents since blocks are the easiest the things to replicate.

They do a lot of tie-in based LEGO sets that I believe are protected by copyright. However, their basic blocks lost their patent last year so it's open season for those!


Part of the success and 'feel' of LEGO are due to the close tolerances - ~.01mm. This is an order of magnitude (or two) greater than my RepRap Mendelmax on it's best day.

However, it will be a great boon to the LEGO community - as they will now have greater access to non-structural, unlicensed parts such as guns [1] and the ilk.

[1] http://www.brickarms.com/

True. I read once that only 4 bricks in a million are defective.

Who knows, LEGO's .01mm accuracy might become the mark by which 3D printing measures itself someday.

I'd bet that day comes by the end of the decade.

Here's to hoping that Lego pivots into a foundation for educational, manufacturing, structural, (etc)... research while investing in 3d printing and bringing the tech up to and beyond their current spec. Optimism!

A dramatically smaller LEGO could still probably make a living off selling model design/instructions and Mindstorms software.

Maybe they can start selling plastic and part plans?

> Extreme future 3D printers will print entire planets or create new suns for new colonies.

I can understand the printing of rockets and jet engines, but can someone give me a hint into understanding the printing of planets and suns?

Printing a star is quite simple. Just dump roughly 10^30 kg hydrogen into empty space. It will assemble itself into a spherical shape and start fusion. ( For best results, add a little bit of He and CNO into hydrogen.)

I presume after the economy of scale kicks in, we'll be able to buy our own planets and suns from Walmart for next to nothing. A sun in every home. In all seriousness though, being able to print planets and suns, that is one of the craziest things I have ever heard.

It's a silly idea but at the same time not totally unrealistic if you assume that one, it's not something we could necessarily start today, two, it isn't a task that could be completed in any 'worthwhile' timeframe, and three, that the raw material for such a venture existed and could be harvested in some at-least-minimally efficient way.

Once we have some sort of solution to the materials problem, it sure would be fun to throw out a couple of linked, self-replicating devices into space and check up on them in, oh, a thousand years or so. Hell, bury our best AI somewhere in the core and maybe by the time it's discovered we'll have a created the next Big Thing. I wonder how long it will be before machines can 'meditate' (usefully of course, hibernate doesn't count)...

The end game for 3d printing is assembling things at the molecular level to our design. Kind of how Star Trek had its food fabricators, just have carbon and have the machine rearrage and orient it to make food, add some h2o and other trace molecules, and bang you got a chicken leg. Or some ultra-nutrient-calorie dense superfood.

If you can do that, making a planet is easy. Doesn't even require a printer - just dump a ton of iron, carbon, oxygen, nitrogen, etc into a tight area of space and let them collapse together gravitationally, or just throw it in concentrated orbit around a star so they coalesce.

I almost want to recind my original statement, because the real end game is manipulation of the most discrete components of matter, space, or reality. Right now its fundamental particles but who knows what else we may find. In usability terms though, crafting molecules seems like it would have the most benefit.

You don't think the Magratheans build their planets by hand, do you?

There's more than a couple of things here I disagree with. I suppose the DNA origami is one. The leap from "folding DNA into shapes" to "making trees grow into a chair" is astounding in it's oversimplification.

> The leap from "folding DNA into shapes" to "making trees grow into a chair" is astounding in it's oversimplification.

Yep, agreed. Besides, you don't need to invoke DNA origami (nor the actual techniques you would use to achieve that, like typical genome manipulation) to get trees to grow into chairs.


Pure hype. It's interesting how a technology that is in fact revolutionizing manufacturing (CNC milling) gets very little attention compared to one that will, by all reasonable accounts, only ever be useful for prototyping or very limited production runs of small objects. A CNC mill in every house would be much more disruptive than a 3D printer. It would give people the ability to make actually useful objects (door knobs, hinges, car engine parts etc.) out of materials (wood, metal etc.) that are far more abundant, strong and cheap than 3D printer substrates.

3D printing techniques are becoming more and more relevant to manufacturing. There's plenty of shapes that you simply cannot make with a CNC mill - RF wave guides, topology optimised brackets etc. Additionally, there's materials which are uneconomical to mill - principally titanium.

The main issues with selective laser sintered titanium as a manufacturing process are speed and surface finish. Speed is increasing, and people are making progress with surface finish. CNC milling (which is an incredibly wasteful process) is just a small development from traditional manufacturing processes. 3D printing is the disruptive technology in the room.

For very high scale components stamping and injection moulding will almost certainly remain the most cost effective manufacturing process. For lower scale stuff (especially weight concious things like aircraft parts) SLS 3D printing will almost certainly start to dominate the market in the next few decades.

I have extensive experience with both CNC milling and 3D printing. I feel that 3D printing is disrupting Product Design/Development vs. actual Manufacturing. Anyone with an idea can now make functional prototypes and proofs of concepts with the click of a button. As you wrote, in perhaps 10 years time, we will be able to get the size and surface finish from 3d printing required to make limited production parts that have certain characteristics (weight, shape, containing reentrant angles, etc) not feasible from CNC milling/turning, etc.

There are three interesting blog posts in this one. I would suggest the titles

3D Printing @ home

3D Printing @ labs

3D Printing @ Star Trek

( Furthermore I think a symbol for 3D printing should be invented. The @ is slightly too 90s.)

call me when 3d printers would be able to print itself from materials found in nature.

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