I do in fact have the same part machined and 3D printed. No, the 3D printed quality is poorer than machined. The printing process leaves a lot of surface texturizing, even though I had the part polished a bit. Higher resolution printing will soon make printed parts indistinguishable.
Anyway, despite the quality of the print, the part is adequate and performing the job. Repeatability of this level of printing will keep my parts out of the retail space. But, it has been great to prove the concept.
The word trend is often misused; similar to the titles "Designer" or "Curator". I work in the trend forecasting industry. My definition is pretty strict. It goes beyond a single thing that happens over a short period of time.
The trend around the world is to move to cities, as it has been for the last 100 years or so, and the percentage has been rising during hat time. Some enormous percentage of world citizens now live in cities. I'm definitely not one of them. I much prefer lots of green, not concrete and steel.
Just because some predictions, or even most of them, are wrong doesn't mean they all are. I grew up in Silicon Valley before it was Silicon Valley and now live next door to it. I've seen more predictions come and go about the next best thing since sliced bread most of the commenters on this board. So if anything, I'm much more jaded than most people. There aren't many big ones, but IMO, 3D printing will be one of them.
Hey, Cabe, just curious. Did you find the quality of the product the same as if it had been machined? I guess it's hard to really tell since you have nothing to compare it to, but I imagine you would have a good idea.
@Charles: You're assuming people want to live in Wyoming or Idaho. Maybe some do, but speaking for myself, and having tried both, I'd much rather live in an urban area than a rural area.
In fact, I live in the Chicago metro area and commute to a less densely-populated area (southeastern Wisconsin) for work. It would be cheaper to live in Wisconsin, but I'd rather live as close to Chicago as possible. Admittedly, I grew up there, so I may be biased. But don't assume that the only reason people live in urban areas is for work.
Futurists have been predicting that everyone will soon be working from home for the past three decades or so now. I don't think it will ever go too much beyond where it is now. There is just no substitute for actually being there, talking to people in person, and getting your hands dirty. We can't all be drone pilots.
I'll also make a prediction here that the futurist didn't make. In the future, I think the population will move to less populated states (Wyoming, Idaho, Nevada), largely because they'll be able to. Future jobs won't require employees to live in huge population centers (for example, Chicago, New York or LA) mainly because of Internet, telepresence and avatar-type robots, which will enable the employee to live in more spacious, less costly locales.
I agree, Greg. The "projects" prediction is pretty safe because, as you point out, it's already happening. I've already worked way more jobs than my father did. And my kids will work far more jobs than I will.
Dave, I agree wholeheartedly. Predicting the future is a game. And the end result is often wrong. I have a book in my basement called "The Road to 2015," which was written about 15 years ago. A lot of the predictions in it appear as if they will be wrong, largely because the big trends of the future tend to emerge with astounding force and speed. The Internet is one such example. Few futurists saw it coming. PCs are another. For decades, futurists saw computers as devices using huge monolithic boards populated by discrete components. Almost no one saw the microprocessor coming, which is why Popular Science once predicted, "Computers in the future may weigh no more than 1.5 tons." (Actually they were right about that, in a way.) Still predicting the future is always fun.
I just had a product idea of mine 3D printed. It works great, and only cost me a hand full of dollars. To have the same part machined would have cost me upward of $500+ dollars. I think the trend is here to stay, and it will only get better.
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