Ann, I need to look into this, but just thought I'd ask. Let's say I print out a part, but I don't like it and I re-engineer it and want to print it again. Can I melt down the prototype and re-use the material? I bet you can...along with all the scrap that is produced. Just wondering. A lot of factors involved in this.
naperlou, it would be nice to have both. Do all of the prototyping with the printer and when it comes time to mass produce use machines. That is unless all you do are one-offs in which case a printer might be ideal. Having the two is the best of both worlds!
They actually already have a prototye of a full scale house printer that is more cost effective than people to build. The printer takes in liquid concrete from a mixer and pumps it laying it down layer by layer. The same system is also designed to place all the wiring and plumbing conduits. When the printer is done all that is needed is the internal and external cosmetic finishing (optional) and the windows, doors, and roof. Only works for single story buildings right now but it is still under development. The system is capable of printing the entire house in 20 hours.
Good point, Bob from Maine, especially the note on Star Trek. It's amazing how many of the devices used on that show have started to emerge as viable technology. That's why Star Trek was Science Fiction and Star Wars was just a western.
Additive manufacturing presents many outstanding opportunities. Without people to stretch the boundries, we'll never discover the limits of this and other new technologies. I don't think I'd really enjoy trying to climb a mobius strip to the second floor, but I'd love to see one just to say I had. The Star Trek replicator provides some ideas on how this technology may be applied in the future. I wonder how they'd add taste.
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