@gsmith120: My sentiments exactly when it comes to the 3D printed perscriptions. Not that it can't be done safely, but there is far more to the practice than cool engineering to ensure safety and that someone doesn't take advantage of the technology for malevolent purposes. This past weekend is a harsh reminder of what can happen.
The furniture design is way cool. Not only does it illustrate what can be done with the 3D printing technology, but it also shows ingenuity in how this artist/engineer retrofit old equipment to meet his 3D printing needs.
Charles, I certainly agree with you on this one. I think technology enhances creativty instead of stifling creativity. Then again, we are always looking for better methods to design a more functioal "mouse trap". The ability to produce on-of-a-kind is intriguing also. I would never have thought of using additative manufacturing to produce furniture but if it works it works.
@bobjengr: That's what makes the furniture application so interesting to me. It's not where you would expect 3D printing to be applied, but as the technology advances and a wider swath of people are exposed, it is being put to novel uses in all kinds of areas. At the same time, it's delivering benefits from the ability to effectively do one-off manufacturing to serving as a way for people to bring ideas to life more quicker. So many different possibilities.
I would't be too concerned at this point about the possibility of home drug synthesis. The current cool uses of 3D create new forms, but don't generate chemically different entities from the starting material. Even Dr. Cronin describes this concept as in the "science fiction stage." This is like worrying about what kind of seat belts to use in a faster-than-light spaceship! :)
I missed the mention of $1,000 a pop in the article. What is priced at $1,000 and is thus a "feel good product like EVs"? It can't be the chairs themselves because $1,000 for a stylish, ergonomic and comfortable chair is a bargain. Add in the possibility mentioned of customizing it to an individual customer and the value skyrockets.
Utilizing a robot to apply the layer-by-layer build-up takes 3D printing to another level by removing it from the limitations of a fixed sized enclosure. As a prototype process, the ability to iterate in full size to dial in comfort without shaving blue foam, shaping plywood or laying out resin is an incredible step forward.
The home medicine aspect of the article was interesting, but could have been a separate article as it addresses a totally different application and industry and raises ethical and legality concerns separate from the cool possibilities opened up by Kooij's creation.
A one-off might be steep at $1,000 but if you use it for a mold to make endless duplicates, that's pretty cheap. Some engineering could go into it to make it structurally sound while using less material.
@CLMcDade: You raise a good point that the 3D printing around prescriptions could have been done in a separate article. The point of combining the two was to take a look at really offbeat applications for 3D printing to showcase the versatility of the technology.
I agree with all that $1K is a bit pricey for a chair, but I'm thinking it's positioned more as art and less about functional furniture.
The real advantage of using an industrial robot to do the 3D printing is the scale of items that can be produced. Making prototypes or one-offs will be possible for larger items without the need to purchase a very large 3D printing machine.
For industrial control applications, or even a simple assembly line, that machine can go almost 24/7 without a break. But what happens when the task is a little more complex? That’s where the “smart” machine would come in. The smart machine is one that has some simple (or complex in some cases) processing capability to be able to adapt to changing conditions. Such machines are suited for a host of applications, including automotive, aerospace, defense, medical, computers and electronics, telecommunications, consumer goods, and so on. This radio show will show what’s possible with smart machines, and what tradeoffs need to be made to implement such a solution.