Great idea and happy to read about this type of product. I can see this opening the doors for many small business owners who want to create a little extra income by making parts for larger suppliers. Since this has a reasonable initial investment cost, this type of technology trend could help stimulate the growth of small busineses.
Good point about patents. I don't see this problem sorting itself out soon. For one thing, patents matter -- as evidenced by the patent wars in smart phone and tablet technology. And you can't limit the patents to significant technology because it's had to tell what technology will end up significant.
Glad to see all this enthusiasm. And it's too bad about the patent office--I agree with Lou. Way too many trivial patents, and even more copies of basically the same idea. That's at least one reason why so many innovative people are going to online platforms like Kickstarter.
Rob, you might have a point about the patent office. Big companies, like GE. generate thousands of patents each year. I doubt that anyone internally really understands how to use most of them. In addition, have you ever noticed all of the insignificant products that are patented? This should tell one something. The pace of innovation is fast becuase of the availability of information and the "sunk cost" in the innovations that came before. This won't slow down.
Norway-based additive manufacturing company Norsk Titanium is building what it says is the first industrial-scale 3D printing plant in the world for making aerospace-grade metal components. The New York state plant will produce 400 metric tons each year of aerospace-grade, structural titanium parts.
Siemens and Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology have achieved a faster production process based on selective laser melting for speeding up the prototyping of big, complex metal parts in gas turbine engines.
BMW has already incorporated more than 10,000 3D-printed parts in the Rolls-Royce Phantom and intends to expand the use of 3D printing in its cars even more in the future. Meanwhile, Daimler has started using additive manufacturing for producing spare parts in Mercedes-Benz Trucks.
SABIC's lightweighting polycarbonate glazing materials have appeared for the first time in a production car: the rear quarter window of Toyota's special edition 86 GRMN sports car, where they're saving 50% of its weight compared to conventional glass.
Design engineers play a big role in selecting both suppliers and materials for their designs. Our most recent Design News Materials Survey says they continue to be highly involved, in some ways even more than the last time we asked to peek inside their cubicles.
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