ChasChas, additive manufacturing is the overall term to describe this technology cluster. 3D printing refers to the use of laser-printer-like lower-end machines and what they do. OTOH, I agree with you, neither one of them really captures the amazing stuff these materials and machines can do.
Jim, you accurately picked up on my frustration. But it's at unclear, inaccurate communication, not at the idea that someone is opposing my vision--I don't have a vision to oppose where AM/3D is concerned. I don't expect AM to entirely take over other forms of manufacturing. Not sure how anyone could read that in to the article or to my comments. And I was surprised at the negative tone in some of those responses, hence my "if we don't start we won't get there" comment. I hope that's all now clear.
Beth, I'm sensing a hint of exasperation in your reply and for that I sincerely apologize. It might seem like Dave & I are opposing your vision, but I certainly am not – I applaud it and your sense of hope. I definitely can imagine a day when AM is routinely producing parts in volume, but of course the individual part cycle time will have to increase dramatically. (currently hours for AM –vs- seconds for molding) But to your hopeful point, "if we don't start we won't ever get there, and Rome wasn't built in a day. ". I share your hope for the future.
Dave, I'm only surprised at the statements that the new tech won't take over all of the old tech. Of course! That seems quite obvious to me. None of the trends I've been reporting on, in any of the areas I mentioned, claim to be able to completely replace all of any existing technology. Not even composites. So that's why I've been surprised to see comments from several people that are written as if those claims have been made. (Even if they had been made, they wouldn't enter my article.)
That said, you may have heard such claims elsewhere. If so, I suspect people making them have been affected by the semiconductor-ization of technology in general. This is not a real phenomenon, but a semi-washing, or perhaps better, a techno-washing, if you will, that seems to assume Moore's "Law" is applicable to anything except DRAM memory. (Which it's not, really, although in general semi-based technologies are known for such massive replacements.) This misperception then leads people to believe that all kinds of non-semi-based, non-electronics technologies will behave like semi-based and electronics techs and the latest tech will completely replace the previous one. This is, of course, just silly.
What should be the perception of a product’s real-world performance with regard to the published spec sheet? While it is easy to assume that the product will operate according to spec, what variables should be considered, and is that a designer obligation or a customer responsibility? Or both?
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