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3-D Printing and its future Impact on Manufacturing and Economy
Old 05-19-2013, 09:26 AM   #1
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3-D Printing and its future Impact on Manufacturing and Economy

This article talks about 3-D printers having significant role in manufacturing and how this might affect the economy and possibly labor market. I suspect the ability to customize, innovate and deliver new products to the market faster, for both large and small companies alike, will be a boon to the ecomony, but the labor force may suffer unless new skills are learned. While these printers have been around for a while, I wonder whether this will turn into the next big thing?

How 3-D Printing Could Disrupt the Economy of the Future - Bloomberg
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Old 05-19-2013, 09:33 AM   #2
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I think it's exciting, and can add significantly to the value of products especially when the printers become affordable to the masses, or at least by local shops in East Nowhere.

Some little part on your appliance or kid's toy breaks, you download the plan for it, and either print/make it yourself or take it to the local shop and have it made for $5.

Cool.
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Old 05-19-2013, 09:46 AM   #3
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Agree that it is very exciting. I think this is eventually going to be bigger than home inkjet printing (which with digital destroyed camera/printing shops).

Currently I buy a mounting plate for my camera that is CNC machined out of aluminum (and it's very expensive). If the plastic from the printers is rigid enough I can easily see myself printing these plates instead (or buying from a third party) and they might even be lighter.

Now they also need to develop 3d scanners at an affordable price...
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Old 05-19-2013, 10:42 AM   #4
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I helped conceive, design, build, apply-for-patent, market, and sell a small device where we used 3D printing throughout the entire process. The device is complicated enough that is costs about $500 to print it and we try to sell it for a few thousand dollars since we need to recover our design, engineering, marketing, and shipping costs.

Sure 3D printing will make things easier and will improve things, BUT ....

There was no magic here. Someone still had to think of the idea, someone still had to know how to use CAD/CAM to specify the parts. We e-mail the design to a 3D-printing company. They ship back the parts. The parts still have to be assembled and tuned.

It is not unlike those plastic model kits (cars, planes, ships, etc) that we grew up with 60's: You get a bunch of plastic bits back. To be sure, there are some parts that would require no assembly, but you see those parts already.

It is unlikely that we will make a mold for the parts for our device. We will always contract with another company to 3D-print it instead.

I doubt you will order replacement small parts to be 3D-printed. Those parts will already be in stock and ready to go just like now. After all, a 3D-printed part needs to be QA/QC'd and rejects tossed. The part may need sanding, grinding, or other finishing.

So as someone who uses this technology. I think it's great, but it ain't all that.
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Old 05-19-2013, 02:58 PM   #5
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A friend of mine is (I think) a fantastic architect, beautiful designs. I heard about this technology and jumped on the phone to talk about it in the context of his work.
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Old 05-19-2013, 03:24 PM   #6
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Originally Posted by DFW_M5 View Post
This article talks about 3-D printers having significant role in manufacturing and how this might affect the economy and possibly labor market. I suspect the ability to customize, innovate and deliver new products to the market faster, for both large and small companies alike, will be a boon to the ecomony, but the labor force may suffer unless new skills are learned. While these printers have been around for a while, I wonder whether this will turn into the next big thing?
It will take some time, but I think it will be one of several next big things. Not only will it improve manufacturing productivity/flexibility, it will become an essential tool for home/personal use for some, eventually many even. Imagine you need a small replacement part for an appliance - you download the 3D file from the manufacturer, print and voila - proceed directly to repair. I can't wait...
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Old 05-19-2013, 04:07 PM   #7
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I saw some kind of feature on the 3-D printer recently on the web. It featured the making of a pistol or revolver and actually firing the thing. What wasn't disclosed was how much machining was required to finish the gun in order to fire it. Regardless, it is truly amazing that every part was made on a 3-D printer. It reminds me of instant casting instead of having to make a mold. No telling where this might go. As an engineer, I am extremely interested.
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Old 05-19-2013, 05:36 PM   #8
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So as someone who uses this technology. I think it's great, but it ain't all that.
Thanks for that voice of experience.

I find this fascinating, but I agree with you that it will likely remain a niche product for a very long time.

For parts produced in any volume, injection molding, stamping and even light machining is cheap. And we've seen such advances in shipping times/cost lately (Amazon?).

For military/space use, or anywhere that it is impractical to keep inventory or ship it, it makes sense. But otherwise, I think it will be a long time before a routine repair part will be cheaper by printing rather than just ordering/shipping. Mfg will still make the part by conventional mass production methods, so verifying a printed part would often be extra work for them. I just don't think the market will be that big for "I need it today, and I can 3-D print it myself" versus, "OK, I'll pay for next day shipping".

But fantastic for small runs and novel things that don't justify tooling.

-ERD50
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Old 05-20-2013, 08:22 AM   #9
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It will have an impact on the medical field as well. "Printing" body parts is already being performed at a simple level at the moment. But it won't be long (with the help of advancements in non-invasive 3-D medical images) that things like exact copies of a person unique knee, hip, shoulder, etc. joint will be possible even if just used as a template for casting a more durable prosthesis.

Cheers!
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Old 05-20-2013, 09:32 AM   #10
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It will have an impact on the medical field as well. "Printing" body parts is already being performed at a simple level at the moment. But it won't be long (with the help of advancements in non-invasive 3-D medical images) that things like exact copies of a person unique knee, hip, shoulder, etc. joint will be possible even if just used as a template for casting a more durable prosthesis.

Cheers!
You probably saw the same story I did a few months ago with researchers "printing" ear cartilage with living cells. Brave new world...

Print Me An Ear: 3-D Printing Tackles Human Cartilage : Shots - Health News : NPR

Maybe we'll be able to print new noses for ourselves one day!
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Old 05-20-2013, 01:00 PM   #11
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You probably saw the same story I did a few months ago with researchers "printing" ear cartilage with living cells. Brave new world...

Print Me An Ear: 3-D Printing Tackles Human Cartilage : Shots - Health News : NPR

Maybe we'll be able to print new noses for ourselves one day!
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Old 05-22-2013, 07:41 PM   #12
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Here is a breakthrough application in emergency medical care. What this little boy needed is so small and precise that it isn't sitting on a shelf. They knew what they needed to keep is airway open, and they were able to make it with a 3D printer. I can foresee many applications of this in pediatrics, particularly in the care of small infants, because the equipment is sometimes not made in the right size.

Doctors save boy's life by 'laser-printing' airway tube | CTV News
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Old 05-22-2013, 08:27 PM   #13
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Here is a breakthrough application in emergency medical care. What this little boy needed is so small and precise that it isn't sitting on a shelf. They knew what they needed to keep is airway open, and they were able to make it with a 3D printer. I can foresee many applications of this in pediatrics, particularly in the care of small infants, because the equipment is sometimes not made in the right size.

Doctors save boy's life by 'laser-printing' airway tube | CTV News
Fantastic! Applications like this, where each part needs to be customized, is where this technology will shine. We really need to start re-thinking what's possible.

-ERD50
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Old 05-22-2013, 08:34 PM   #14
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My son owns a fairly inexpensive 3-D printer, and uses it whenever a part he needs for his hobbies is not commercially available. I believe he paid around $300 for it. He uses Solidworks to design the parts.

The white camera mount in this photo was made in his workshop with his printer.
http://www.early-retirement.org/foru...icture853.html
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Old 05-23-2013, 09:27 AM   #15
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Fantastic! Applications like this, where each part needs to be customized, is where this technology will shine. We really need to start re-thinking what's possible.

-ERD50
3D printing will, like many other technologies, find its first mass market, cost-effective use (beyond prototyping) in the medical field. Pardon the pun, but we are in the "infancy" of 3D printing's use in medicine.

Let's just hope that the future doesn't become Repo Men (2010) - IMDb
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