Every RP article implies that faster design processes are better. Here the author even argues that more iterations leads to better outcomes. This may sound obvious, but anyone involved in design will tell you: faster doesn't always mean better. Here is a hint: it really depends on the design methods that you use and how far in the decision making process you are. Sadly, the last 10 yrs have shown me that most RP are not actual improvements to the quality and originality of products. Some times faster just means faster, and this only means producing crap designs faster than before.
Thanks for raising the issue, SoCalPE, and thanks Jason, for the link to a resource for suggestions on plastic part disposal. I'm sure we'll be hearing a lot more people raising concerns about this issue as 3D printer use becomes more prevelant and as more organizations more widely integrate the technology as part of their prototyping and product development workflows.
On i.materialize, the first search result from above, they lay out 4 possible solutions. While they may not work for everyone and every 3D printer, they are atleast bringing some interesting and valid means or reusing unwanted printed objects.
Beth, thanks for corroborating my concerns about recycling 3d printed parts. Yes, that photo with the caption "... generate a mountain of throwaway prototypes..." is concerning in our society's semi-enlightened path of renewal ability and recycling. I'm an avid fan and user of FDM 3d printing for prototype parts. To my knowledge, SLA material cannot be recycled unlike 3d printers that extrude ABS (which we recycle after the parts are tested). I'm not sure about Objet or ZCorp parts. Doug, can you speak to this?
P.S. Tape Wrangler tolerances of some parts are 1/250,000 of an inch. Really???
Great working examples of how 3D printers are being used in companies to faciliate design and as a more cost-effective means of prototyping.
Seeing that image of all of those plastic, 3D printed parts, though, makes me think about disposal issues related to all this content that will be generated. A reader raised that issue in a comments on another 3D printer story and that image really brings the concern to light.
An MIT research team has invented what they see as a solution to the need for biodegradable 3D-printable materials made from something besides petroleum-based sources: a water-based robotic additive extrusion method that makes objects from biodegradable hydrogel composites.
Alcoa has unveiled a new manufacturing and materials technology for making aluminum sheet, aimed especially at automotive, industrial, and packaging applications. If all its claims are true, this is a major breakthrough, and may convince more automotive engineers to use aluminum.
NASA has just installed a giant robot to help in its research on composite aerospace materials, like those used for the Orion spacecraft. The agency wants to shave the time it takes to get composites through design, test, and manufacturing stages.
The European Space Agency (ESA) is working with architects Foster + Partners to test the possibility of using lunar regolith, or moon rocks, and 3D printing to make structures for use on the moon. A new video shows some cool animations of a hypothetical lunar mission that carries out this vision.
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