Here's some interesting research being conducted at MIT's Self-Assembly Lab where 4D printing is being realized. According to the Principal Scientist/Founder of the Self-Assembly Lab, Skylar Tibbits, he defines 4D as time. His definition of Self Assembly is " a process by which disordered parts build an ordered structure through only local interaction." I've included links to his TED talk link and the Self Assembly Lab for additional information. His vision is to eliminate the complexities of construction and manufacturing using programmable materials that create new structures using passive energy. Very interesting stuff!!!
Pubudu, You are absolutely correct that 3D printing is changing the design industry. Although, I do agree with article that small scale manufacturing using 3D printing for prototypes is more practical than on a larger scale. Traditional manufacturing techniques are and will be the norm for handling large volume production runs because of the massive throughput required.
"market for 3D's use in small-volume manufacturing in the next 12 years ($1 million to $1.1 billion). I don't know any field of technology that can match those numbers."
I have a feeling that the problem with this statement, is that $1m undervalues the current market size by probably a factor of 10-30. There is about $1m/yr and growing in just the RepRap (and similar FDM machines) market. When all 3D printer markets are combined, it has to be significantly higher, or it would not be supporting as many salaries as it does today.
The number is amazing, isn't it Pubudu? If a market doubles in 12 years, that's said to be a fast-growing market. Here, it's growing a thousand-fold. Of course, this is a brand new market, rather than a mature market. But even so, a thousand-fold is an extraordinary growth figure.
The editor of Wired has said 3D printing will be bigger than the Internet. If Lux's numbers are right, there will be a thousand-fold increase in the market for 3D's use in small-volume manufacturing in the next 12 years ($1 million to $1.1 billion). I don't know any field of technology that can match those numbers.
Yes, JimT, After tripling my money by investing in Stratasys, 3D Systems, and ExOne I decided to take my profit. The expectations of growth built into the stock prices is too high. But as Yogi Berra said, "It's hard to make predictions, especially about the future." I keep an eye on game changing ideas. Is there anything in 3D printing applications that will change the need to produce stuff at all? Emphasize the word applications. We don't have to own stuff as long as we have access to it. That's true of the printers as well as other things. Consider Zipcar, for example, or websites that permit people to rent out their bedroom or their ladder or whatever. Maybe mass production is unnecessary if people share and rent stuff more.
Much of what we are all agreeing on, is easy to agree on – because we all see the reality, Today. On the other hand, market forecasts 20 years into the future are a lot tougher to get accurate.
"Plastics Engineer" described the economic viability of 3DP & AM, when small quantities are required. AGREED - Perfect application. "78RPM" describes quick fabrication of long-obsoleted replacement parts. AGREED - Another perfect application. ,,,And the theorizing about placing these "replicators" on other planets for space missions is absolutely fantastic. It is truly exciting and encouraging to know that we currently possess the capabilities to do these things.
While I embrace all of these realities of today and hopes of tomorrow, I struggle with accepting the forecasts offered by Lux in this report. Maybe they're all spot-on; but maybe they're way-off-base. Lux makes the statement: " ,,,3DP will become $1.9B by 2025,,," If forecasting, why not an even $2.0B-? Such forecasts are a lot harder for me to "swallow" than the pure technology capability.
It is true that current 3D printers cannot attain production speeds. But they can create jobs and improve process productivity. What if an architect model maker could print a model in two hours instead of hand building it in two weeks. The architect gets the proposal to the customer two weeks earlier and the project can proceed earlier and get construction workers to work earlier.
Some companies and government offices use antiquated equipment by economic necessity. If a part is no longer in production, 3D printing a part can save the machine. I imagine a fan blade or impeller that is typically stamped from sheet metal; but maybe its efficiency could be improved by varying the edge thickness. 3D printers could print a mold and the manufacture could be done by molding metal powder. I think I recall Ann writing about NASA considering sending 3D printers to asteroids and Mars and the moon to print equipmenet out of indigenous materials --And about medical doctors being able to print equipment in remote locations without having to warehouse every tool they might need. It's an exciting time.
Jim, so far most pundits are not saying 3D printing and AM will affect the high end of production, as the Lux analyst points out, and for the reasons you cite. It's low-volume parts that will likely be transformed. Tooling is also a target for some of the R&D funded by NAMII.
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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