Not sure why you find 1 million visitors to the NY auto show hard to believe. The 2013 auto show in Detroit saw over 795,000 ticketed attendees (http://www.naias.com/01-27-2013.aspx). Given Detroit's being under 1 million residents, that's an equivalent of over 80% of the host city population showing up. I'd say the NY show is a slacker with a head count of only 12% of the host city population expected.
I agree, Bob from Maine. The use of 3D printers to build GM engine is remarkable. As I understand it, some automakers are also now building functional prototype parts that can be used to prove out the design, not only for assembly, but for test. The editor of Wired recently said 3D printing will be bigger than the Internet. I think he may be on to something.
I spent many years in the military and flew very often. Obviously the military has a different set of priorities than civilian airlines and they fly their aircraft closer to the outer limits of their performance envelopes. They also have a tendancy to have "mishaps" more often: I survived two. Smoke coming from an engine on the ground was not an uncommon occurance and usually the "extra" fuel would burn off and everything would be fine. As far as 3D printing of cars goes, several years ago General Motors announced it had introduced a brand new V-8 engine in less than 6 months having started from nothing and through the use of CAD been able to analyze all parts to demonstrate possible interference and other issues, all within a computer program. This six month turn-around was after decades of 3 and 4 year development periods for previous engines. Using 3D printers to allow a complete new design of a transmission and proving that it can actually be assembled is a remarkable feat. Imagine what they'll be doing next year.
I think the metaphoric pendulum needs to swing back towards center. 3D printing is new, exciting and interesting. It's good to try out new things but I think some of the applications go a step too far.
Yikes, that sounds a bit scary. In all my travels I've been lucky enough (so far--knock on wood!) not to deal with anything like that, but you're right, it's far different to hear about it hypothetically than to experience it. Good to hear the flight ended up being a safe one.
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