It is fast becoming that mix of fun and wacky (printing chocolate, printing food, printing shoes and furniture) and highly functional (printing UAVs and small machine prototypes). I think Chuck's point about ideas percolating is also critical. People are predisposed to experimenting with this technology and putting it to different uses. Once they do, the enthusiasm is viral, spawing more and more applications and pushing the use-case envelope even further.
I had always envisioned 3D printing being used in applications like the Skil-Bosch FDM on page 6, but as I look at this show, I'm beginning to think consumers will find an amazing number of new ways to use this technology. I agree with you, Beth, the best idea is to bring it to schools and let the ideas percolate up over the years.
Beth, thanks for a fun slideshow. This topic, and technology, is one that invites so many different approaches to use and applications for end products. Slide 7, the UAS, was impressive--looks like it was *not* a prototype. But the chocolate on slide 15 is wild.
It seems like 3D printing is so different and so hard to visualize, until you actually see it at work, that it definitely is one of those areas that captures the attention of young people. I would imagine there are dozens of efforts tucked away in various schools exploring how to exploit this stuff. Every school should have access to the technology as well as part of a drive to keep the attention focused on STEM.
Good point. Today there are many different attempts to create rapid prototyping. I remember about 15-18 years ago supplying sensors to keep the work cavity stable while laser is curing the compound during rapid prototyping. These were the initial steps of 3D printing.
The other night I saw a presentation by a Project Lead the Way (PLTW) team at one of our local high schools. They built their own 3D printer from scratch. They also created a different architecture. The "image" is cured from the bottom and built up that way. This is an interesting technology and, as Beth says, it is coming down rapidly in price.
Using wireless chips and accessories, engineers can now extract data from the unlikeliest of places -- pumps, motors, bridges, conveyors, refineries, cooling towers, parking garages, down-hole drills and just about anything else that can benefit from monitoring.
With strong marketplace demand for qualified engineers across the board that currently outstrips the available supply, there may never be a better time for engineers and project managers to advance their careers and salaries. Whether those moves are successful in the short-term and long-term is likely to depend on how the transition from one job to the next is handled.
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