My guess is that the process for this will be very specific. Bike makers or appliance makers will have libraries of CAD models of their parts that users can download, for a fee, most likely, and then there will be explicit instructions as to what materials to use for 3D printing. Think of it like a recipe and maybe even offering this functionality through service bureaus as opposed to printing on individual printers. I don't think it will be the wild west with everyone just building whatever they want with whatever materials they want.
William, I wasn't concerned about early adopters, such as the hobbyists, DIY-ers and part-time pros, who presumably know what they are doing, and at least as important, know what they don't know. I was thinking about the uneducated consumer end-users, who don't have a clue what they are doing and might use the wrong material for an app, such as a bike part, and then get in an accident when it breaks.
I just watched a special on TV where 3D printing was used by a ventriloquist to create his latest creasture. It was pretty cool to see this technology being used. And I appreciate all of the articles in Design news because I had a betty understanding of what was being demonstrated.
I wonder how we survived before. My grandfather had a wood shop in his garage. Complete with table saws, lathes, and belt sanders. He made original pieces including tables, chairs, book shelves, and chests and also repaired the same. Several of my cousins have machine shops in their garages, complete with pipe-bending, welding equipment, and drill presses. Do increased liability issues reflect the increased technology of 3D printing or the increased voracity of lawyers?
Actually, Ann, the first step of this might be the do-it-yourselfer - the person who currently has a wood shop or metal shop in the basement and makes replacement parts out of whatever happens to be around. Maybe the actual drawings, wouldn't be furnished by the manufacturer, but he could make his own replacement parts with either a smart phone app (photographic it from various angles) or a simple CAD program.
Beth, what a vision! I love the possibility of replacement parts for a bike or a toaster. But doesn't that mean a huge number and variety of materials available to the consumer end-user? And what if a consumer uses a toaster-type material to make a replacement part for a car and it breaks? Sounds like possible liability problems to me.
Actually, Chuck, the notion of personal manufacturing is individual, not producing anything in any kind of scale. This is the movement among hobbyists for producing their own one-off product designs--say a piece of jewelry, for example, or some sort of novel invention. People are also talking about using the technology so if you needed a replacement screw or maybe a fairly simple part for a toaster or some other household product, you might be able to go online, download the 3D model, and then 3D print it on your in-house printer as opposed to trying to buy the replacement part in stores or online.
Beth: The term manufacturing always conjures up mental images of production volume, although I'm assuming the volumes are very, very small in this case. How much volume could a "manufacturer" expect to turn out with this technology?
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