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3D Manufacturing: New Weapon For US Economy
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Thomas Claburn
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Thomas Claburn,
User Rank: Author
8/1/2014 | 7:31:05 PM
hoping for 3D printing
3D printing probably has more implications for commercial manufacturers than individuals. Though 3D printing has been touted as a way for people to make their own goods, it's generally much easier, cheaper, and faster to drive to the nearest mall or shop if you live in an urban area.

 
danielcawrey
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danielcawrey,
User Rank: Ninja
8/2/2014 | 6:04:55 PM
Re: hoping for 3D printing
Very interesting article. I think 3D printing has huge potential. There's still a ways to go before it hits mainstream, however. That may require some sort of consumer-facing product or service that enables anyone to print things.

I know that there are already stores that do just that, but they are few and far between. 3D printing's success will come the same way the PC hit the masses: one in every home. 
ChrisMurphy
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ChrisMurphy,
User Rank: Author
8/4/2014 | 12:27:33 PM
Re: hoping for 3D printing
I find the use cases Samir paints here valuable because they focus on the "why" 3D printing could be so valuable -- this customization element, whether it's jeans built to size or a lunchbox designed to exact color specs. Li Tan, you point to the technical problems, which Samir points to with his "hack materials" requirement. But we also need the business models to make that pursuit worthwhile.     
Gary_EL
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Gary_EL,
User Rank: Ninja
8/1/2014 | 11:20:35 PM
Wood products and clothing too?
I've seen a 3D printer in action and it was so amazing, actually seeing a complex shape literally come into being like something materializing out of a Star Trek transporter. But it was plastic. I wasn't aware this was possible with cloth or wood. I can imagine a database of, well, Everthing, just waiting for someone to plunk some money down to get a copy produced. Never mind little Johnny, I'm imagining myself not spending the better part of an afternoon trying to hunt down a pair of jeans in exactly my size. I'll never have to go shopping again!! With the potential economies of scale possible here, I can image gigantic companies coming into being and making huge changes in the way manufacturing is done. Who will these new Microsofts be?
Li Tan
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Li Tan,
User Rank: Ninja
8/2/2014 | 6:27:50 AM
Re: Wood products and clothing too?
That's also what I am interested. Can 3D printing produce the stuff like clothes and leather shoes? The electronic and software part should not be a big issue. My concern lies in mechanical and material part. It's hard to deal with cloth material such as flax and leather shoes may be too complicated for 3D printer nowadays.:-)
moonwatcher
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moonwatcher,
User Rank: Strategist
8/5/2014 | 9:13:44 AM
It is an evolution, not a revolution
3-D Manufacturing, or more correctly, "Adative Manufacturing" is not some over-night sensation, despite all the media hype surrounding it (mainly because of the idea of making untraceable guns using the technology). This has been decades coming since the 1960's. Laser metal sintering will probably be even more important than squirinting out ABS plastic to make iPhone cases. And due to gravity, there are many plastic parts that simply cannot be made with a 3-D printer, parts that are far more suitable for injection molding and other techniques. Will people beyond hobbyists have a 3-D printer in their house one day? Maybe. But it definitely won't replace "industrial scale" use of plastics. Not anytime soon. I love the technology. It allows me to do rapid prototypes, but it simply isn't a replacement for an experienced manufacturer who has hundreds of thousands of dollars of specialized equipment at their disposal. I would love to see that process using wood. That would be pretty amazing.
Ariella
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Ariella,
User Rank: Ninja
8/6/2014 | 12:37:54 PM
Re: It is an evolution, not a revolution
@moonwatcher yes, it's been around for decades but only came to mainsteam attention in recent years. As for its role in manufacturing, I interviewed somoene in the industry who thought its real game-changing potential lies in making the tools of manufacturing more efficient rather than the consumer products themselves. See here.
moonwatcher
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moonwatcher,
User Rank: Strategist
8/5/2014 | 9:24:59 AM
Let's see how Amazon's 3-D store does
Now that Amazon is offering 3-D printing, it will be interesting to see if people will take advantage of it, and be willing ot wait a few days to get their custom parts, or will they see the need to invest $1000 to $2000 in their own machine,  which they'll have to maintain, just like an ink jet printer, in order to get nearly instant gratification. Currently,  even fairly simple parts require an hour or so to build on a Makerbot. And choices in hwo the build is done can greatly affect the parts. There is a learning curve involved. Will the masses be up for that learning curve?


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