Even if you don't get any scrap, if you printed a part and wanted to make a change to it...you could melt it down and reuse that to reprint it I would hope anyways. I am just talking about like plastic prototype stuff.
That was just the main advantage I saw with 3D printing...making prototypes before you actually machine the real deal. So instead of wasting material(machining) you could print it and recycle it if there were changes to be made.
Ann, one last thing on this subject. This might be obvious to some, but I just thought of it. I know the 3D printers are good for prototyping the part and assuring it's correct. What I was wondering was...and if this would work...can you take the model(file) for the 3D printed part and feed it to a cad/cam system so that there are no programming errors, so that it is an exact replica of the prototype? So no programmer error.
Cadman-LT, when we're talking about 3D printing a building, it's not usually made of plastic, but of more typical construction materials that begin as powders and are bound together to make a solid like concrete, brick, etc. So there's no melting down involved. For a variety of these materials, see an article I wrote for a UBM sister publication, Future Cities: Your Next City Block, Printable on Site: http://www.ubmfuturecities.com/author.asp?section_id=262&doc_id=523906
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 discussion will examine what’s possible with smart machines, and what tradeoffs need to be made to implement such a solution.