I have been following the posts about 3D printing and it is interesting. It only stands to reason that once the platform is designed and standardized that material scientists will get on board and find ways to meet your manufacturing needs. It's all a supply and demand curve. With 3D printers demanding more options out there and easier to attain manufacturers will get creative quickly. I have heard that marine and automotive are already considering of 3D printing some parts for low production numbers. I don't see this being ideal for any mass produced part since injection molding will still rule that field. Also keep in mind that some of the Composite material airplanes today use special made 3D printers. So if one of the most controlled transportation industries in the world is allowed to use 3D printers I don't see why other applications cannot be allowed?
I have been a user of various RP technologies for over 10 years, and it can be invaluable in getting evaluation versions in your hands, even functional prototypes are now the norm given all of the material choices available. I recall a few years back a webinar with a guy who was a big proponent of the future of consumer-level RP machinery. He invisioned people having consumer versions of 3D printers at home to allow them to download 3D files directly from manufacturers so that they could build their own replacement parts for various consumer products that had failed. I think that is still a ways off, but an interesting idea, nontheless.
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.
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