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Will 3D Printing Transform your Life?

The next best thing or will we choke on a rising tide of plastic?

by
Helen Smith

Bio

March 10, 2013 - 5:49 am

That is the question sought to be answered by the new book Fabricated: The New World of 3D Printing by Hod Lipson and Melba Kurman, who discuss the pros and cons of a 3D world where we could possibly have a machine that could make everything. The authors state “[in] the not-so-distant future, people will 3D print living tissue, nutritionally calibrated food, and ready-made, fully assembled electronic components.”

The book looks at the history of 3D printing and how it came about and from there, the chapters discuss everything from what these machines can make to the legal difficulties that will follow from the technology. From the Backcover:

Businesses will be liberated from the tyrannies of economies of scale
Factories and global supply chains will shrink, finding themselves closer to their customers
The law, already reeling from digital media, will once again need to be redefined
Our environment might breathe easier in a 3D printed economy, or it could choke on a rising tide of plastic
3D printed digital and intelligent, adaptive materials will change our relationship with the physical world

What do you think of 3D technology: Is it the next best thing or will we choke on a rising tide of plastic?

Helen Smith is a psychologist specializing in forensic issues in Knoxville, Tennessee, and blogs at Dr. Helen.

Comments are closed.

All Comments   (13)
All Comments   (13)
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The way things are going, we may have to print another earth.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Great hype of the week book. Two problems - the periodic table and energy. Yes, there will be lots of great thing created by 3d printers but the list will be limited. Different materials need different mechanisms to break and create bonds. Creating and iPad this way for example would likely take great quantities of energy and lots of special systems to work with aluminum, thermoplastics, gold, silver, copper, thermoset plastics and a dozen other base components let alone the many more complex molecules.

Of course the tool will drive the design so things will be built that leverage its abilities. Custom parts of all sorts - car body designs, light fixtures and lots of more artistic versions of simple products. Maybe a version that does clothes, or food but not complex electronics.

Great designs will not be free and processes like metal stamping will still make metal parts far more efficiently. Sure you can create custom metal sintered 3D printed silverware - but you won't.

Some disruption - maybe like radar or x-rays, but not like the automobile or the Internet.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Sorry, but the lawyers will make sure this technology is stopped before it gets disruptive. 3D printers will be like copiers are now but moreso...using only proprietary raw material cartridges, only designs downloaded from official websites, etc. They will be highly regulated as they can make weapons and break copyright laws. The only people who will be able to use them freely are those making them in their basements...illegally. So yes, the "makers" will have them, but wide-open 3D printing will not be available to the masses...hence, not really transformative. Sadly. "Here is the future, but you can't actually have it."
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
The death of the gun control movement.

This reminds me of when the Medieval Knight was at his height, he was already rendered obsolete by the arquebus and the crossbow. So it is with gun control being rendered obsolete by 3d printers and CNC desktop machines.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
They’ve just printed some guy a new skull, and I ask how long until we can print an entire human? I don't know, but if I'm still around I know who I'm going to order. The possibilities are endless. Look in the catalog under Blondes. Want a living, breathing Marilyn Monroe? Pretty expensive, but ultimately the prices will drop, and you might be able to get a Rita Hayworth or an Angelina Jolie for under ten thousand dollars, with a Special on Britney Spears. And of course there would be catalogs for women too. So if I clone myself back to age 25......(sigh)

A lovely blonde, a sweet brunette
And redheads by the mile
The very thought of 3D life
Will bring a thoughtful smile
To every man who ever dreamed
Of a woman might have been
Will pay the price and hope that there’s
A difference ‘neath the skin

1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
I think these devices are pretty slow, so if you want to take hours to print your sandwich it might be pretty disruptive, but it might still be easier, quicker and considerably less expensive to pick it up at Subway :).

It certainly makes it pretty much impossible for government to ban anything, though, which I think is a very good thing.

D

1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Whatever evolves from this technology, I won't be able to afford it.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
I wouldn't be so sure of that. Back in the 1960s and early 1970s, computers were so expensive that only governments and corporations could afford them. By 1980, there were many models of personal computers available. Depending on how well they were equipped, their prices ranged from roughly $1000 (about $2800 when adjusted for inflation) to several thousand dollars. Those were 8-bit computers that typically had a max of 64K of RAM and little to no graphics capability. Today, you can buy a computer with thousands of times the power for well under $1000.

3D printers are expensive today but the prices are dropping while the capabilities are increasing. You and I may not be able to afford one today but perhaps in another 10 years or so, they'll be affordable for the rest of us.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
If you've actually done a bit of research into this technology, it is a transformative, disruptive tech. It's equivalent to horseless carriages replacing horsedrawn vehicles, saddlemakers and buggywhip factories. It'll have more of an impact on your lives than computers and the internet.

In time, your refrigerator and freezer will be useless. Your kitchen cabinetry goes away. Your closets and most home workshops won't be necessary. Whatever you need can be made, at home when you need it. From food, screws and lightbulbs to shoes and clothing. That's what you're looking at in twenty years. In the short term? Yeah. It's Bill Gates starting Microsoft. Steve Wozniak putting his first PC up for sale...but better and with most of the bugs already worked out.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Let say this technology does live up to the hype and that it radically decentralizes manufacturing over the next 20 year or so. Would not this be a technology that "crunchy cons" and other proponents of localized economies and society should be in favor of? It seems to me this technology would be a shot in the arm for such people. Yet, you never hear a peep out of such people about this technology.

Why not?
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
I think this book is about as accurate as a book on the future of computing published ca. 1964.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
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