I think it's the toy makers like Mattel that are the ones Chuck and others were mentioning who'd be nervous about 3D printing in the hands of the masses. Since those big manufacturers are doing huge volumes, it's unlikely they'd be interested in using this technology: it's not ideal (at least not yet) for turning out massive quantities of identical objects. We discussed this here http://www.designnews.com/author.asp?section_id=1392&doc_id=262205
3D printing surfboards makes a lot of sense from the customization standpoint, although I don't know about the materials angle. Are the materials even close to standard, non-3D printed ones? And size--wow, that's big.
Quite a few, if memory serves me right. Han Solo, Princess Leia (of course) and Luke Skywalker for sure, but I think I also had C3P0 and R2D2. All the good guys...no one from the "dark side" for me. :)
Speaking of what can be printed with 3D printers...I just wrote a story yesterday about 3D-printed surfboards! It should be posted soon. As a surfer I found this to be pretty incredible, even though I am still a bit of a purist and think if a board is going to be custom-made, it's better to be hand crafted. But still it's yet another example of the size and scope of this technology and its possibilities.
There are also other manufacturing methods, such as injection molding and CNC milling, which may be more appropriate for a specific item, or a part of one item. In fact, the 3D-printed camera I wrote about here http://www.designnews.com/author.asp?section_id=1386&doc_id=265687 employs some CNC cutting, and the Gadget Freak camera described here http://www.designnews.com/author.asp?section_id=1362&doc_id=266251 combined 3D printing with laser cutting. Engineers are already doing this. It's the companies they work for that may need to catch up to what's already happening.
I can see how that makes sense, Ann, that they would see it as competition, but it's a shame in a way. I guess it's the usual resistance that comes with having to completely overhaul everything to do it a new way, because this could become the way to manufacture in the future. I think bringing it inhouse is a much better plan to gradually transition rather than be completely resistant to the idea.
In this new Design News feature, "How it Works," we’re starting off by examining the inner workings of the electronic cigarette. While e-cigarettes seemed like a gimmick just two or three years ago, they’re catching fire -- so to speak. Sales topped $1 billion last year and are set to hit $10 billion by 2017. Cigarette companies are fighting back by buying up e-cigarette manufacturers.
Advertised as the "Most Powerful Tablet Under $100," the Kindle Fire HD 6 was too tempting for the team at iFixit to pass up. Join us to find out if inexpensive means cheap, irreparable, or just down right economical. It's teardown time!
The increased adoption of wireless technology for mission-critical applications has revved up the global market for dynamic electronic general purpose (GP) test equipment. As the link between cloud networks and devices -- smartphones, tablets, and notebooks -- results in more complex devices under test, the demand for radio frequency test equipment is starting to intensify.
Much of the research on lithium-ion batteries is focused on how to make the batteries charge more quickly and last longer than they currently do, work that would significantly improve the experience of mobile device users, as well EV and hybrid car drivers. Researchers in Singapore have come up with what seems like the best solution so far -- a battery that can recharge itself in mere minutes and has a potential lifespan of 20 years.
Some humanoid walking robots are also good at running, balancing, and coordinated movements in group settings. Several of our sports robots have won regional or worldwide acclaim in the RoboCup soccer World Cup, or FIRST Robotics competitions. Others include the world's first hockey-playing robot and a trash-talking Scrabble player.
Focus on Fundamentals consists of 45-minute on-line classes that cover a host of technologies. You learn without leaving the comfort of your desk. All classes are taught by subject-matter experts and all are archived. So if you can't attend live, attend at your convenience.