Good point, TJ. As you can see at the end of the post, the retail type movement (a la the Apple storefront concept) is just starting to happen with 3D printing as well. I remember when Apple announced they were going to put stores in malls. As a long-time journalist covering information technology, I thought they were crazy. Who's going to buy a PC or printer in a mall. Well, who's laughing now. I think with the right type of company, the right type of technology (that goes without saying) and the right type of marketing muscle, the retail exposure to 3D print technology might be an important catalyst to help it take off.
Beth, while this is interesting, it would be more interesting to see what is being done by people investing in this technology to make real products. I see a lot of these "community" projects announced with much fanfare. On the other hand, not much comes out of it that will drive the economy. In the past there was lots of talk about hackerspaces or makerspaces driving innovation in the mechanical engineering area. They still exist, but are havens for people to learn, they don't really drive new business. So, it will be interesting to see what comes out of this new effort.
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.