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3D Manufacturing

Written By: - Date published: 9:32 am, April 13th, 2013 - 125 comments
Categories: Economy - Tags: , , ,

Heard of this one a few weeks ago:

Tomas Rousek, Katarina Eriksson and Dr. Ondrej Doule are collaborating with NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory on plans for a modular architectural structure at the lunar south pole. Each module would be printed using a NASA robotic system, which would produce a ceramic-like material by microwave-sintering lunar soil, also known as regolith. There would be no need for glue, as the particles would naturally bond themselves together when heated to the right temperature by the robots.

And this one came across the Twitter feed:

A three-dimensional (3D) printer powered by sunlight has been developed with the aim of turning desert sand into glass. Now, experts are recognising the device as a promising first step towards a future large-scale industry.

It seems that 3D Printing is really starting to mature. Such printers are becoming smaller, cheaper and more capable. The first article I linked to shows that it’s only a matter of time before builders become obsolete. Both articles show that a lot can be done with the diffuse energy of the sun.

Although it has a ways to go 3D printing is, IMO, the next level in manufacturing. It produces less waste than traditional forms and is far more flexible. Parts could be made on site from local raw resources rather than being mass produced in a dedicated factory based on the old manufacturing model and then being shipped around the world. There is some doubt that 3D printing capability of reaching the same speed that traditional manufacturing can but I believe that will be addressed in time.

The first major effect of 3D printing though will be the fact that even small communities will be able to afford 3D manufacturing facilities. As I said, they’re small and cheap compared to traditional factories which means that trade will become less and less of an option – especially international trade. No more exporting ourselves to wealth (not that that was ever going to work).

The neo-liberals will get the perfect competition that they’ve dreamed of and it will be their nightmare. When everyone can manufacture whatever they need and designs can easily be shared across the internet then the artificial restrictions (Think patents and copyright) that the capitalists have been building up for the last few centuries will break. Profits will crash, jobs will disappear and poverty will be rampant. At that point we will have to make a choice – to work together or to try to keep capitalism going and the latter isn’t an option.

Draco T Bastard

125 comments on “3D Manufacturing”

  1. infused 1

    I really cannot wait for this technology to explode. We just ordered a simple 3D printer for our office. Simple, but still cost $1k. Hopefully the costs will come down.

    This is really going to change so many industries and create even more.

    Good vid for those who don’t know about it http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X5AZzOw7FwA

    However, I think major 3d manufacturing will not hit for sometime.

  2. ianmac 2

    Bluddy marvellous. Now I can 3D my meals. Fish’nchips? Pheasant stew? Crayfish cocktail? Whiskey and soda? The only limit is my imagination. And no washing up!

  3. Jackal 3

    You’ll be pleased to know Draco that the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EEF) has been challenging patents that are slowing this technology down. Although it’s interesting, I don’t think 3D printing is much of a threat to the capitalist system though. You can be sure that they’ll find a way to exploit it and take their cut.

    • Draco T Bastard 3.1

      You can be sure that they’ll find a way to exploit it and take their cut.

      I think they’ll try, I don’t think that they will succeed as someone working in their garage and sharing their own designs globally is going to be impossible to stop and damn near impossible to sue.

      Apples patent of a square with rounded corners shows the extreme lengths that they’re going to now and people are seeing through such actions and the laws that allow them as nothing more than a money grabbing device. At some point it’s possible that patents had a place but, IMO, it’s becoming more and more obvious that they’re restricting innovation rather than helping it now.

      Education is exploding across the globe and, IMO, it’s peoples experience and education that leads to ideas. The education is becoming fairly uniform and so you’ll have more and more people having the same idea with slight differences due to their experiences. Now, if two people have the same idea at the same time independent of each other and spend the time and money to develop that idea who should have the patent? IMO, giving it to one and preventing the other from utilising their own knowledge and work is an injustice. It fact I’d go so far as to call it Thought Crime as the patent system is quite literally preventing people from developing their own ideas.

      People will rebel against this in time and 3d printing will give them the power to do so.

      • Jackal 3.1.1

        Draco

        It fact I’d go so far as to call it Thought Crime as the patent system is quite literally preventing people from developing their own ideas.

        Have to agree with you there Draco, but for different reasons… Patenting is hugely expensive, meaning that if you don’t have the money to protect your ideas past the initial patent, they will simply be stolen. In this way many inventions aren’t developed, because there’s nothing in it for inventors who don’t have extensive financial backing to protect their ideas. Unfortunately the current patent system is designed to give advantage to corporations.

        With the advent of patent trolls, there’s no doubt that the entire patent system is broken.

    • Mary 3.2

      The irony is that the more technology improves the more right-wing governments do everything they can to maintain employment as the all important centre of the way we do things. Even when technology has the potential to make everybody’s lives so much better right-wing governments continue to hammer people without work with benefit sanctions. Technology gets better but values don’t change. Right-wing rich pricks.

  4. terryg 4

    makerbot recently released a $500 3D scanner….

    http://arstechnica.com/business/2013/04/new-443-3d-scanner-on-sale-looks-awesome-shoots-lasers/

    there was a paper in a recent IEEE Transactions on Industrial Electronics that described using a MiG welder & an XYZ table to to build a 3D “printer” that builds metal objects. now thats cool.

  5. Plan B 5

    it is the young teenage kids that get their hands on these machines now that will shape the future- I have no doubt about that. This stuff is perfect for New Zealand and New Zealanders

    • Paul Campbell 5.1

      we already have them in the community – we have kids coming in to our Makerspace to use the printers – to the point where we’re printing a few more. We print in PLA – it’s a non-oil based plastic, made in NZ from whey – something that would otherwise have been landfilled

      NZ company Ponoko.com is already a big player in this field – you can get stuff printed for yourself now without owning a printer (or if you live in Dunedin come into the local Makerspace, we’ll let you use ours for free, or print you parts for your own, provided you promise to print 2 copies for others)

      Medium term they’re part of our solution to peak-oil – every city will have an Ikea-in-a-box – design something on line, it will get manufactured down the road from local materials (none of this shipping logs to China and getting tables back) at a robot factory, some bits 3-d printed, others built as needed and will appear kit packed, or assembled on your door step a few days later

      Long term they’re eventually going to be a massive game changer, very very disruptive, when the time comes to build that home machine that can assemble atoms (maybe 50 years from now) we’ll only need to build the one, and it may well be the last machine we’ll ever need to build, after that we’ll shut down all the factories, all those jobs that involve making stuff (from food to chairs) will go away – we’ll all have what we need provided we have enough energy and feed stock (we’ll start mining the garbage dumps and toxic waste pits, and recycling the things we don’t want at home to make new things) – money wont means anything, first because we’ll all be able to forge it to out heart’s content and secondly because we’ll all be able to make what we need at home. We had better be able to get away from that whole work ethic thing because we’re all going to be unemployed and looking for ways to fill our days. The 1% will be screwed because no one will care about their money as everyone can make the same things they have in their homes. As I said it’s a potentially wildly disruptive utopian/dystopian future.

      Oh yeah and Maurice Williamson is full of shit – he just realises that if we can make everything ourselves there’s no real point in having a Dept of Customs – and besides a bit of righteous moral fervour against new technologies that threaten the rich plays to the home crowd

      • Polish Pride 5.1.1

        This is the most accurate post on what our future will look like that I have seen and personally I can’t wait. I can already envisage govts trying to outlaw or restrict them using the printing of guns and drugs as the reason given where the real fear that they have will be the collapse of the economic systems i.e. ‘The System’ as we know it and they will be desperate to do anything they can to hang onto it including trying to take more of peoples freedoms away. I believe the technology will prevail and will move too fast for them to stop it. Personally I can’t wait.

        • Colonial Viper 5.1.1.1

          I can already envisage govts trying to outlaw or restrict them using the printing of guns

          In NZ you just need the appropriate firearms license and to meet the required firearms handling and storage standards. No problem.

          By the way, firearms chambers need to deal with over 10,000 PSI max and I can see no evidence that anything available in the consumer space will cope with that.

          • Polish Pride 5.1.1.1.1

            For the moment yes, but it is early days and hen you think of the very first computers or printers and compare them with what we have today, I don’t think that its out of the question in 20 or so years

            • Colonial Viper 5.1.1.1.1.1

              I wouldn’t conflate our ability to manipulate electrons at faster and faster speeds as being related to how quickly we can improve performance in the physical macro world. CPUs are a thousand times faster now than 30 years ago; but planes trains and cars are barely any quicker.

              BTW todays large professional office printers can almost match the quality output of 50 year old lithographic presses.

              So that’s not all that impressive. When will 3D printing be able to match the quality output of a 50 year old steel mill or aluminium foundry?

              • Draco T Bastard

                BTW todays large professional office printers can almost match the quality output of 50 year old lithographic presses.

                But which is cheaper both to make and to run?

                When will 3D printing be able to match the quality output of a 50 year old steel mill or aluminium foundry?

                What, you think NASA will make rockets out of sub-par parts?

  6. RedLogix 6

    While I fully appreciate the enormous ability to create almost unlimited shapes, I’m still very sceptical about the limited range of materials that 3-D printing might be able to handle.

    • Draco T Bastard 6.1

      3d Printing
      It may be limited ATM but development is taking place. In fact, even now it seems that the restrictions are more a case of getting the process right than the materials used.

      • RedLogix 6.1.1

        Umm yes. But when I cast my mind around the last dozen or so purchases I’ve made, privately and professionally, I really struggle to see how low-cost 3-D printing will ever get there. How about a hi-performance down sleeping bag for instance?

        During my engineering degree days I do recall how apparent it was that virtually all of the significant commercial advances in technology have their essential roots in advances in material technology. For instance the automotive disk brake was first devised in the 1890’s but it was not until the mid-1960’s that advances in pad materials made widespread commercialisation practical.

        How for example do we think something as commonplace as a bicycle might be rendered using low-cost 3-D?

        If 3-D printing is ever to have a real impact I’m thinking that, as you suggest, the entire design, nature and process will need re-thinking. Practical 3-D devices are probably not going to be simple analogs of their traditionally manufactured pre-cursors.

        • Draco T Bastard 6.1.1.1

          How about a hi-performance down sleeping bag for instance?

          Well, there’s just some things that 3d printing won’t do.

          How for example do we think something as commonplace as a bicycle might be rendered using low-cost 3-D?

          3d Printing – 3d Cloning A Bicycle
          Baby steps but it’s getting there. That one was made using nylon but it would be possible to use a similar process or a slightly different one to make it out of, say, titanium.

          Practical 3-D devices are probably not going to be simple analogs of their traditionally manufactured pre-cursors.

          No, but I believe that the process of printing can make them better. Take 3d transistors for starters. Difficult to do with the normal lithographic process but inherent with 3d printing.

          • Paul Campbell 6.1.1.1.1

            (puts on chip designer’s hat) I think that these “3D” transistors are just minor changes to the 2D way we’ve made transistors – they’re just turning them on end so they have a smalled 2D footprint not stacking them millions deep.

            I’m looking forward to being able to print bulk semiconductor materials – I want to be able to print transistors into an object I’m making, creating CPUs that are integral to objects – we can use much larger feature sizes and still get the same densities (we do need to figure out how to get the heat out of the middle though)

            • Draco T Bastard 6.1.1.1.1.1

              The first article I read on the 3d transistors said that they’re better as well and not just smaller. Something about the current flowing through them better.

              • Paul Campbell

                right but they’re still being laid out in 2D (with a slight jump into 3D in metal for wiring) – using photo lithography for fabbing them leaves you in the 2D world

        • KJT 6.1.1.2

          Too true. i think materials science will have to come up with a whole lot of new materials to make it viable.

          Not impossible though. Just a matter of time.

          Like the Romans knew the principle of a rocket engine, but couldn’t do it with the materials on hand.

      • RedLogix 6.2.1

        I’ve read all of those links joe … thanks. While the SLM technique looks very promising, it’s really only useful for very thin components otherwise the amount of laser energy required to keep the active layer molten becomes very large. And lasers are not very energy efficient. Great for highly specialised, super expensive things like rocket fuel manifolds … not so much for mass production I’d think.

        The plastic bicycle is pretty much exactly what I expected it to be, clever, but nylon (or any known plastic for that matter) just doesn’t cut mustard. Too weak, too heavy, too prone to UV degradation … too plastic. There’s a reason why every real bicycle frame worth riding is made of either a chromoly steel, titanium, aluminium alloy, or carbon fibre. There is a whole art form to designing and building a frame that rides well.

        http://www.brightspoke.com/c/understanding/bike-frame-materials.html

        All the other links are interesting and well worth the read, but … well there’s always a but. I’d think that 3-D printing will eventually expand and enhance the scope of manufacturing, opening up some niche areas that are currently either too expensive or unsuited to the current mass production supply chains. I like the suggestion about printing out for instance a replacement for a cracked tail-light cover. Perfect application. And it will revolutionise R&D and prototyping.

        I’ll concede that there remains a lot of potential for innovation, but for the time being I remain unconvinced that it’s the fundamental sea-change some people want it to be.

        • Paul Campbell 6.2.1.1

          want that cracked tail light printed out? Vic at diamondage.co.nz has transparent red PLA (and amber) buy some, take it to your local makerspace along with a 3d model of the tail light and print it out ….

        • Draco T Bastard 6.2.1.2

          The plastic bicycle is pretty much exactly what I expected it to be, clever, but nylon (or any known plastic for that matter) just doesn’t cut mustard.

          Which is why I said that the same process could have been used to produce it in titanium. The article on SLM showed that to be true.

          And lasers are not very energy efficient.

          True but is the use of an inefficient laser more efficient than the vast waste and thus recycling produced by traditional manufacturing? I suspect that it is.

          I’ll concede that there remains a lot of potential for innovation, but for the time being I remain unconvinced that it’s the fundamental sea-change some people want it to be.

          Fair enough, don’t say we didn’t warn you 😈

          • terryg 6.2.1.2.1

            laser diodes are now 50% efficient; 20-100W optical power laser diodes are commonplace. and can be stacked. it is now essentially trivial to generate laser pulses on the order of tens to hundreds of kW optical power. so much so that a large slab of PN material and a 10kW laser pulse make a nifty switch that can switch hundreds of kA and withstand megaVolts.

            yay semiconductor optics

  7. Ennui 7

    Is’nt technology wonderful? I looked around me, saw plenty and wondered just what I really needed, or did not already have? Still thinking….what can I print???? Consumption sated, I sleep.

  8. Lanthanide 8

    There’s lot of talk about having 3d printers in every household etc, but IMO it seems this is overblown.

    The simple fact of the matter is, most people won’t have the skills or even interest to design their own shapes/objects/products/whatever, but they’d be happy to use other people’s designs.

    The other issue really is just materials: there are a variety of plastics that can be done at the moment, but when it gets to metals, not all that much. Pick up 10 random pens and you’ll find multiple parts made of metal that simply can’t be replicated by 3d printers. Electronics and circuit boards are another very tough nut to crack.

    What seems more likely is 3D printing becoming available in your community. At the moment we go to the Warehouse and buy stuff that was made in China and shipped around the world. In the future we’re likely to buy stuff that was made at the store itself, or somewhere within the same city, by industrial high-precision, high-speed 3d printing technologies that simply can’t be affordably replicated in peoples homes. If done on-site, this could lead to made-to-order products, cutting down the need for warehouse space and distribution significantly.

    • One Anonymous Knucklehead 8.1

      The simple fact of the matter is, most people won’t have the skills or even interest

      That’s like saying there won’t be a printer in every home because the majority aren’t graphic designers. They go ahead and create their headache-inducing clip-art birthday cards skills or no skills.

      Look for a rash of home-printed uncomfortable chairs.

      • Lanthanide 8.1.1

        True, but it depends how cheap this stuff really becomes.

        You can go buy a printer for $50 and get cheap off-brand ink for say $10 in order to do your crappy stuff.

        But if a 3D printer costs say $300, and 1kg of plastic costs say $30, then it’s a lot less feasible to do that.

        Also I’m not sure how many people go out and buy a printer with the idea of being a graphical designer; more likely they’d buy a printer for other purposes and then dabble on the side before they get bored.

        The fact is, most people are consumers, not creators.

        • Polish Pride 8.1.1.1

          and those consumers will be able to both pay and get free open source files they can download from the web.

        • felix 8.1.1.2

          “But if a 3D printer costs say $300, and 1kg of plastic costs say $30, then it’s a lot less feasible to do that.”

          Well it was only a few years ago printers were $300 and it didn’t seem to stop everyone from buying them.

          “Also I’m not sure how many people go out and buy a printer with the idea of being a graphical designer”

          Yeah that’s kinda the point.

          Having said that, I don’t find any of this very exciting. Cory Doctorow might think it’s wildly innovative to fill the world with plastic trinkets but I don’t.

        • Draco T Bastard 8.1.1.3

          The fact is, most people are consumers, not creators.

          I believe that, given the tools and resources to be creative people will become more creative. 3D Printing gives them that which our present system actively prevents. It’s going to be a societal change and one for the better.

      • Rogue Trooper 8.1.2

        lol OTH

    • Rich 8.2

      I’d imagine the killer app will be car and other parts.

      I scrapped a van a while back largely because of a cracked indicator glass that would cost several hundred dollars to replace. With cheap manufacturing techniques you’ll be able to either download a design file or scan the broken part and “fix” it in CAD. Probably plastic first and eventually things like casings, but maybe not things like pistons that need annealing and stuff.

      • Colonial Viper 8.2.1

        Spot on. For many items, the specific manufacturing process itself creates the characteristics useful in the item. Directional strength, temperature resistance, conductivity etc.

    • infused 8.3

      You download the shapes. Google even has a program that can print them for you. It’s pretty much idiot proof.

      There is a whole ‘app’ like ecosystem for it.

    • Colonial Viper 8.4

      I’m with Lanth here. Until the technology can create say a Nokia 1100 (or complete parts thereof), or hairdryer (or complete parts thereof), it’s reality is relegated to making novelty items.

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nokia_1100

  9. TheContrarian 9

    VHS was going to end the movie industry also.

    • Draco T Bastard 9.1

      That was basic stupidity – of course VHS wouldn’t have killed the movie industry. It wouldn’t even have touched the corporations as the costs of the means for making movies was still too expensive. Now that digital cameras and the software used to make movies is commonly available and quite cheap we will probably see a move away from the major studios. Won’t happen over night you understand.

      The same applies to 3d printing and manufacturing.

      • Colonial Weka 9.1.1

        VHS was meant to kill cinemas, not the movie industry. Like computers were meant to enable us to use less paper or ebooks will kill libraries. I think it’s fair to say that technological predictions that revolve around human behaviour are fairly unreliable. I’m still waiting for the internet to kill tv, but I fear it’s a vain hope.

  10. Rich 10

    We’ve had CNC milling machines for 40+ years. I’m not sure how a 3D printer is that different except that it adds rather than removes material, and you don’t need a skilled operator (though that’s largely a function of how CNC gear is used, and that the materials are usually hard to cut metal – you could CNC suitable plastic a lot more easily than steel).

    OTOH, you can’t print sheets of ecstacy with a CNC mill.

  11. KJT 11

    Please don’t tell that f wit Williamson we can already make working guns in a home or school workshop. He will try and ban them too.

  12. DH 12

    There is still a long way to go. The cheap printers use melted plastic to build up layers and that technology has physical limitations. To get high quality you need to reduce the size of the nozzle and do thinner layers. That slows down the production of the model, a commercial grade $30k FDM printer can take up to a day to create a large model in the quality required for commercial sale. The mid-range priced models are excellent for design and prototyping but manufacturing… not so much. I’m not so sure those limitations can be overcome with that technology.

    The 3D scanners seem to have similar limitations. I looked at a $4k laser 3D scanner and it just wouldn’t do the quality scanning required for commercial use.

    Yeah they’re great machines but the good ones still cost a fortune.

  13. Colonial Viper 13

    Yeah great, more advances to a future economy without jobs and which does not need workers.

    I suppose everyone who lost their jobs through the decline of “bricks and mortar” industries will upskill and become well paid web designers. LOL like that happened.

    • infused 13.1

      Well it shouldn’t be surprising. It was said around 50 years ago that the future there would be very few employed. Those employed would be in very skilled jobs.

      Problem is, no one thinks past tomorrow.

      • Colonial Viper 13.1.1

        Sure, but in the 70’s that reality was talked about as a 4 day working week, and what were people going to do with all their spare time and money gained from all that extra productivity from technology.

        • RedLogix 13.1.1.1

          Yes. We’ve already seen the consequences of the bankers breaking the relationship between finance and the real economy. What happens when the traditional relationship between workers and business owner is then subverted by automation?

          Some people have argued that the techno-industrial model has no future and will collapse when it exhausts the resources it demands for infinite growth.

          Others argue that it will collapse when the inequality arising from the financial sector concentrating ever more intensely wealth into fewer and fewer hands finally unleashes the chaos of social breakdown.

          Others pin their faith in the religion of progress, believing that ‘something will turn up’, that human ingenuity will always solve all problems. Yet right now if we were to discover for instance, the perfectly non-polluting, unlimited source of energy … capitalism would destroy the planet within a generation or less.

          History is usually a pretty good predictor of the future… or maybe we’ll be blind-sided by something unexpected and that the future turns out nothing like what we even could have imagined?

          • Paul Campbell 13.1.1.1.1

            Well I commented on this above – I see these technologies as eventually (50-100 years from now) being highly disruptive in that they potentially do away with most work – if everyone can make the necessities of life at home then why work at all. Money and wealth will becomes things of the past, no one will care if you’re one of the 1% because your bank account is just a bunch of bits that no one cares about any more.

            We’ll have to get past that protestant work ethic thing and learn to entertain ourselves, find reasons to live and grow – people will still work but for other reasons, status, interest, fun. Performers, artists, designers will be our new stars rather than bankers. Real estate and energy will be the real wealth.

            • weka 13.1.1.1.1.1

              The necessities of my life are food, clothing, shelter, heating, clean water, my car, good company. Not really printable stuff eh? Someone is still going to have to work. Plus I want things that won’t damage the place I live in, so the whole plastic house/life thing doesn’t really appeal. Until someone can address the materials issue (including Peak Everything, and cradle to grave resource use) in this thread, then 3D printers remain interesting tech but not the save all being presented here.

              I do agree with you about getting past the Protestant work ethic. The reasons we have to work so hard are cultural and economic. Technology can’t solve that, although it can be a useful aid once those things are solved.

            • Colonial Viper 13.1.1.1.1.2

              being highly disruptive in that they potentially do away with most work

              Automation and PCs also did away with a lot of work. How is that working out for the 90%?

              • Colonial Viper

                Also, an extremely large portion of western economies nowadays are in the service industry. Waiters delivering meals, therapists giving massages, builders fitting new bathrooms.

          • Rogue Trooper 13.1.1.1.2

            yeRP

      • Colonial Weka 13.1.2

        infused, did you just make the argument that 3D printers = high unemployment rates? How does that work economically?

      • Adele 13.1.3

        Kiaora Infused

        But there is also predictions that civilisation may, in fact, go the other way – low tech. The degradation of the built environment over the natural environment; Over population conflated with diminishing resources; and Technology having adverse consequences.

        Technology, while slick with marketing, is generally a simple tool to create and build profit.

        Will Technology improve lives – most definitely. Will it improve civilisation – the evidence to date suggests not.

    • Draco T Bastard 13.2

      Yeah great, more advances to a future economy without jobs and which does not need workers.

      I’ve been saying for awhile that economics isn’t about work any more but about distribution. The problem is, IMO, that we keep hanging on to the idea that people need to work for an income.

      Even now proper use of technology should be dropping us down to about 10 hours of work each per week because that’s all that’s needed to maintain a reasonable living standard for everyone. Instead we have a system that takes all that’s produced and gives it to a few while requiring ever more work from the many.

      • Colonial Viper 13.2.1

        Even now proper use of technology should be dropping us down to about 10 hours of work each per week because that’s all that’s needed to maintain a reasonable living standard for everyone.

        10 hours of paid work, another 20-30 hours of unpaid work for community and family causes, hobbies and interests.

        Instead we have a system that takes all that’s produced and gives it to a few while requiring ever more work from the many.

        Not that many. Those people whose labour is not needed to make money for the owners are put on the scrap heap.

          • Colonial Viper 13.2.1.1.1

            Ahh, thank you.

          • karol 13.2.1.1.2

            Thanks, DTB. A very interesting and informative read.

            I like the idea of community-based co-operatives, rather than worker-based ones. If the working time of people diminishes, that would make any social organistion based on “workers” a bit obsolete.

            Also, community was more the basis of life prior to industrialisation.

            As for technologies: I see the future as being a mix of sophisticated new technologies, and very old basic low-tech ways of doing things. he whole 3-D manufacturing thing doesn’t particularly excite me. However, I think it could be a useful part of future life – just not necessarily a central one.

            Low tech ways of doing things, often bring people together.

            • Colonial Viper 13.2.1.1.2.1

              Low tech ways of doing things, often bring people together.

              Spot on. Nothing beats building a camp fire, freshly caught fish, a guitar and (two) dozen beers.

          • ghostrider888 13.2.1.1.3

            Beautifully Advanced Timing Red

      • weka 13.2.2

        “Even now proper use of technology should be dropping us down to about 10 hours of work each per week because that’s all that’s needed to maintain a reasonable living standard for everyone.”

        Do you have a credible analysis of the detail? I’m thinking of all the jobs that cannot be automated without losing quality: cleaning, cooking, healthcare, growing food, parenting and childcare….

        • Draco T Bastard 13.2.2.1

          Zeitgeist: Moving Forward mentions it. They do have research to back that up as well. It’s mentioned in the film but as I’m near my cap I can’t go download it again to find where that research is. I did read it when I first watched the movie.

          But my first advent into this was a thought experiment where I asked: Does NZ really need a $200b per year economy? The answer is No, we don’t. If we define $10,000 per person per year as being reasonable then all we need is about $50b per year. One quarter of what we presently produce.

          And, yes, that’s using the very fallible GDP measure which misses out a lot of what you mention and so I just don’t have enough information to work with on those. That said, I’m sure that automatics could do a lot of that just as well as humans – it’ll take just a bit more development. As an example there’s the self-drive car. The best use of that wouldn’t be driving personal cars but driving public transport – buses and taxis.

          One other aspect of using automation as much as possible is the huge shift in what people would do. There’s nothing wrong with all those taxi and bus drivers that would be out of a job doing the stuff that the automatics can’t do.

          • TheContrarian 13.2.2.1.1

            The Zeitgeist movies? Really? Jesus man, learn to learn.

          • Colonial Viper 13.2.2.1.2

            Does NZ really need a $200b per year economy? The answer is No, we don’t. If we define $10,000 per person per year as being reasonable then all we need is about $50b per year. One quarter of what we presently produce.

            Not every dollar in GDP economic activity can be considered as finally ending up as a dollar of someone’s personal income.

      • TheContrarian 13.2.3

        ” 10 hours of work each per week because that’s all that’s needed to maintain a reasonable living standard for everyone.”

        Citation needed.

        • Bill 13.2.3.1

          Not a citatation, but I and others who lived/worked in a housing/workers’ collective only needed to do about 8 hours of renumerative work per week to maintain a perfectly decent lifestyle. But that wasn’t technology that did away with the need to earn over the span of 40 + hours per week; just smart organisational structures.

  14. millsy 14

    So what would be examples of things that could be made by using this technology?

    • joe90 14.1

      Machines that a few years ago cost hundreds of thousands of dollars are now available for tens of thousands and eventually they’ll replace foundry pattern makers and die-cast tool makers. And I’ve no doubt they’ll replace rotary moulding techniques soon enough.

      • Colonial Viper 14.1.1

        I don’t think any of this will make any difference whatsoever to China remaining the manufacturing centre of the world.

        • Draco T Bastard 14.1.1.1

          The economics definitely will and possibly the social connection as well.

          • Colonial Viper 14.1.1.1.1

            No, china can always run larger volume more specialised printers than we can, and operate them at less labour costs and lower environmental standards.

            • kiwi_prometheus 14.1.1.1.1.1

              All this 3D printing and robotics leaves Marxist Leftist analysis looking way behind the play.

              China labour costs are moving up fast as they demand a more buogeios middle class society and values eg riots about pollution -> “cancer villages”

              .

              Plus their work force is rapidly aging and will plummet soon enough.

              • Colonial Viper

                Wake me up when 3D printing can build a 2003 Nokia 1100.

                PS robotics have been a major feature of industry since the mid 1970’s. Old tech.

                China labour costs are moving up fast

                Correct. Pretty soon they will reach 1/4 of the average NZ wage.

                • kiwi_prometheus

                  “Pretty soon they will reach 1/4 of the average NZ wage.”

                  And soon after that… and then soon after that…?

                  “PS robotics…Old tech.”

                  As you confess you are somambulant.

                  The Scientists and Futursists are telling us big changes happening right now.

                  • Colonial Viper

                    The scientists and the futurists live in a dream world.

                    Won’t someone please tell me when 3D printing can produce a 2003 Nokia 1100??? Think of the children!

                    • Clockie

                      In case you hadn’t noticed, most of the techo doo-dads we take for granted now were literally science fiction thirty years ago. ie. A twinkle in the eye of scientists and “futurists”. Dreaming that something might be possible is the first step on the path to making it happen.

                    • kiwi_prometheus

                      And when will they going to hurry up and give us time travel and eternal youth, havent we waited long enough?!!

                      Science is SUCH a let down!

                      Why do they even bother teaching science anymore in schools?

                    • Draco T Bastard

                      3-D printing is revolutionizing product development

                      While low-cost 3-D printing by consumers and small businesses looks like a market now poised for takeoff, large businesses have already embraced advanced versions of the technology. The result has been a significant improvement in the product-development process across a wide range of industries, including the manufacturing of cars, consumer electronics, safety equipment and medical devices.

                    • lprent []

                      I can testify to that. We got the case prototypes for our new products printed. Lot faster and infinitely cheaper than the alternatives. We could test stuffing the screens and boards into the box and find out some basics; like do the boards overheat when fully enclosed in a water proof case.

            • Draco T Bastard 14.1.1.1.1.2

              No, china can always run larger volume more specialised printers than we can, and operate them at less labour costs and lower environmental standards.

              No, actually, they can’t. Modern factories run at close to the same level of efficiency no matter the size so economies of scale no longer apply and that’s without the benefit of 3D printing which reduces the need for specialisation at the factory itself. People need the same amount of looking after no matter where they are in the world which means that labour costs are the same – it’s only the delusion created by the money system that makes it seem otherwise. And China is at least making all the right noises about cleaning up their act as far as the environment goes (it’s too soon to say what they’re actually going to do).

              Then there’s the fact that the idea of comparative advantage which international trade is based upon is also bunk. In fact, it seems that it makes the world worse off.

              All of that means that we can, and should, produce as much as we can here. And that’;s just the economics. The social side where everyone works together rather than competing against each other is another aspect of the change that will help bring about a shift to manufacturing here.

    • DH 14.2

      “So what would be examples of things that could be made by using this technology?”

      It’s technologies millsy. Plural. 3D printers can build pretty much anything, limited largely by the mechanical strength of the build material each different technology uses. The cheap printers all use the same technology; they extrude molten plastic through a heated element to build a model layer by layer. This picture is a sample from a Bits for Bytes 3D printer which is one of the better printers in the cheaper $2-4k range.

      https://static.zoovy.com/img/rapiddirection/-/bits/3dtouchggears.jpg

      It has a layer thickness of 0.125mm, you can see the layers in the picture. That’s 80 layers per centimetre & you might imagine how long it takes to build a complex model of any reasonable size. The print head aperture varies between 0.2-0.4mm diameter and XY tolerance 0.2mm so, adding that to the layer thickness, you might also picture the basic mechanical problem in improving the build quality while keeping the price low

      It’s interesting and useful stuff with a promising future but it is being overhyped. People keep creating a link between the cheap printers and the high quality products that more expensive printers can build using different technology. That link isn’t there (yet)

      This is the kind of quality & speed etc I want, problem is this technology costs about $90k & upwards.

      • Colonial Viper 14.2.1

        So it can print a polymer model of a camcorder or voltmeter or vehicle suspension spring. But not an actual camcorder or voltmeter or vehicle suspension spring.

        That says a lot.

        • Draco T Bastard 14.2.1.1

          This link from joe90 above is about NASA building rocket engines with them. Seems that they’ve passed the point of just building models.

          • Colonial Viper 14.2.1.1.1

            They are gaining the tech to build very specific components. The breakthrough will be when they can print something like a 2003 Nokia 1100. I personally don’t think that they will do it inside of 25 years.

        • millsy 14.2.1.2

          Yeah, that is what I was thinking as well.

      • weka 14.2.2

        Thanks DH. Can you be more specific about the actual things that can be printed now? What is the thing in the picture used for?

        The big limitation (apart from the economics) seems to be materials. Are 3D printers largely aimed at printing with plastics? Can you print with different kinds of plastics from the same printer? How? Are the things printed recyclable?

        • DH 14.2.2.1

          They’re constantly evolving, doing a lot of work with polymers & other compounds that can be used in a powder format and with a suitable binding agent give very good mechanical strength. This is a another technology I was looking at that looks good and prices out at about $30k, main problem is the consumables are expensive so the cost per model is high…

          http://www.javelin-tech.com/main/products/objet24_desktop_3d_printer.htm

          It’s quite bewildering just how many different technologies & types there are, all with their own quirks & catches. The inkjet style are popular because they’re fast, can spray a jet much quicker than extruding a melted compound. It’s probably where the cheap home printers will come from eventually, it’s a development of existing inkjets

          The cheap printers are moving to different plastics, mostly using ABS at the moment but there are some other types around. You can get models with multiple printheads and each head can use a different colour or type of plastic.

        • DH 14.2.2.2

          “Can you be more specific about the actual things that can be printed now?”

          Anything made of plastic now can be built on a 3D printer. Anything not made of plastic but which can be made of plastic can also be built. Main issue is you need to either design the model yourself with a CAD program or scan it with a 3D scanner. Good 3D scanners don’t come cheap and CAD ain’t much fun. They open source community are building up a library of CAD files to share but there’s literally millions of things you can make so chances are the file doesn’t exist yet for the things you want to build.

          The commercial printers usually have an extra print head or similar for support material, it’s a water soluble compound that you can print & then wash away leaving a complex shape with overhangs & thin walls. Can build bearings, moving wheels on axles… you name it.

          Other issue is size. Printers generally have a build size up to 200 x 200 x 200mm with many half that or increments between. Doesn’t let you create very large objects and the bigger they are the longer they take.

          • weka 14.2.2.2.1

            Many of the things I have that are made of plastic, are also made of other materials too. How does that work?

            Still waiting for a list of things that 3D printers can print already.

  15. WaihekeLad 15

    Whats really exciting is when those plans for large 3D printers that can print out a completed house from a plan get introduced here (with attendant spaces left for the plumbing and electrics to be inserted). That will be the a real game changer. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ehnzfGP6sq4

    • kiwi_prometheus 15.1

      Well the nay sayer colonial viper doesn’t believe its going to happen so his advice is that you should just forget about it and go back to sleep.

      • Colonial Viper 15.1.1

        By the way, futurists of the 1960’s were sure that we would have personal flying cars by now.

        • kiwi_prometheus 15.1.1.1

          What were they saying about cell phones like Nokias?

          • Colonial Viper 15.1.1.1.1

            Hand held walkie talkies and walkmans were commonplace, but mobile electronic technology was like mobile phones were conceptualised by very few.

            The Motorola Dynatac dated from 1983/1984.

            • Clockie 15.1.1.1.1.1

              Star Trek. Hand held communicators. And I’m sure that’s not the earliest example but I can’t be bothered trawling through my ancient collection of sci fi at this time of night. Sci Fi writers are often the predictors of future technology even before scientists are. As I said before it’s all about imagination. From Jules Verne onward.

              “Were conceptualised by very few”. Something only needs to be conceptualised by one person..

              • weka

                From Mary Shelly on 😉

                • Clockie

                  I’m a fan but I don’t count her work as Sci Fi. Of course there are others earlier than Jules Verne who can be nominated as proto-sci fi authors, (Cyrano de Bergerac??) but most would agree that Verne began the modern genre.

                  • weka

                    Although I probably disagree about Shelly and SF, I was more getting at the evils of science theme in this thread 😉

                    • Clockie

                      The reason I mentioned Verne of course, is that he’s acknowledged to have been the inspiration for many scientific and technical achievements of the twentieth century. Submarines, helicopters, rockets and a dozen and one other things. Shelley predicted nothing that I can think of. But she’s a good read. 🙂

    • weka 15.2

      I can’t watch that vid, but had to look up 3D house printing.

      Their answer is ProtoHouse (a model of which is pictured above), which they’ve described on their website as such: “The Softkill house moves away from heavy, compression based 3D-printing of on-site buildings, instead proposing lightweight, high resolution, optimized structures which, at life scale, are manageable truck-sized pieces that can be printed off site and later assembled on site.”

      The construction would come in seven giant chunks of laser-sintered plastic that would take three weeks to print, at which point they’d be trucked to the site and put together in just a day without the need for nuts, screws, nails or adhesive of any kind, thanks to an ingenious cantilevered design.

      The process of 3D printing a house is wildly innovative, though not exactly economical. Ruijssenaars’s house is estimated to cost upwards of $5 million, and Fast Company author Kelsey Campbell-Dollaghan is the first to admit that erecting a similar structure out of poured concrete would be both cheaper and stronger.

      Then there’s the aesthetic of the ProtoHouse, which utilizes “long, fibrous threads of plastic” to achieve a look akin to living inside the deformed, hideous skull of one of Ridley Scott’s famed (and terrifying) Aliens.

      http://bostinno.streetwise.co/2013/02/25/the-worlds-first-3d-printed-house-could-be-innovative-disruptive-downright-terrifying/

      Sorry, but it’s very hard not to be sarcastic when I read something like that.

  16. ghostrider888 16

    ALL PLEX
    The 4Ds

  17. joe90 17

    Having a look around the interwebby thing and I’m surprised at what’s going on in the 3-d printing hobby world – lots.

    http://hackedgadgets.com/2011/12/09/printrbot-3d-printer/

    http://www.printrbottalk.com/forum/

    http://www.reprap.org/wiki/Printrbot

  18. vto 18

    Will we still be able to buy 2D printers?

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