Tuesday, July 19, 2011

The 3D Printing Big Bang

There is a lot of hoopla now about 3D, mostly TV, but also about printing. You can buy your own 3D printer for, I am not making this up, $1300. http://store.makerbot.com/makerbot-thing-o-matic.html




We are getting close to being able to print a human organ. http://utopianist.com/2011/03/3d-organ-printer-creates-kidney-on-stage-at-ted-conference/ The ability to 3D print combination metal/plastic fabrications will mean a revolution in consumer products, imbedded electronics, and robotics. Imagine being able to crowd electronic components together in three dimensions with just enough space for cooling channels between them. No more clunky circuit boards taking up a lot of real estate. All of the inner space of a product can be used. There will be no screws, rivets, bolts, plastic pop fasteners, weld marks, mold marks - no telltale line where one part meets the other. The future is seamless. No more taking it apart to see how it works without the hammer.

Besides books and body parts, imagine print-on-demand cars and houses - anything that can be drawn in three dimensions. And just wait until they get the high-temperature printing heads figured out. There will be airplane fuselages and wings of magnesium-reinforced composite with no seams or welds to come apart and no streamline-disturbing rivets. Engine blocks of ceramic guaranteed for half a million miles. Nano printers will rewrite our DNA and RNA to cure an illness or prevent aging. They will print chips molecule by molecule, iterating the quantities of this and that material to speed up the process of finding miraculous qualities in our electronics of the future. 3D chefs will compose impossibly complicated and nuanced foods layer by microscopic layer and still have it on your table in less than ten minutes. A 3D food printer is shown here.



Artists will be fettered only by their imagination.




You will go to the 3D print shop with your home grown drawings and specs, rent their machine, and plot out your own stuff to take home. If your concept works, print some more and sell them. 3D print shops will be as ubiquitous as copy places now. They may even replace big-box retailers. Instead of Walmart, go to your home 3D unit, download the file, and print your product right there at home. Print out that dvd you ordered from Netflix instead of waiting for it in the mail. When you get tired of it, recycle it into another one. Your trash is sorted and fed into your home 3D printer which grinds and sorts everything into little bins, waiting for you to print it into something useful. Don’t know what to fix for lunch? Look at the menu on the 3D Print-A-Meal and print something to eat. Get experimental and print out some espresso tamales for breakfast. Want an office building? The contractor sets up the 100x100 foot printer with corner poles extending forty floors up and loads up the material bins. Masonry, steel, glass, electrical, and plumbing being printed layer after layer all at the same time, rising from the ground as you watch.

You think what I say is far-fetched, but it is happening sooner than you think. You can go to CloudFab.com right now and order any 3D object you have a file for or modify one of their stock files. You can have it made out of resin, nylon, ceramic, or stainless steel. They charge by the cubic centimeter.

Now, if we could just figure out how to print more time. I’m going to ask the people at CERN if they can look into that for us.

Thanks,
Glen Hendrix, author Transmat World

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