My question is why is there no mention of the 3D printed eyewear created by Protos Eyewear in this list. They had crazy traction at CES and well is much more difficult to create then some of the other products showcased here.
I assume that the efficiencies of the near-net-shape welding process are most evident on large parts (like may be used on aircraft) that would otherwise require the purchase of a very large volume, expensive billet of Titanium (for instance) and then 80+% of the material would have to be removed with conventional milling process. By using the near-net-shape process, the expensive billet would not have to be purchased and I imagine that the total machine time would be reduced considerably.
Concerning the paper cut-out lamination process.... I believe the commonly used term for this process is LOM (Laminated Object Manufacturing). http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Laminated_object_manufacturing . Someone told me that this may be the oldest of the rapid prototyping methods. I'm not sure if that is true, but it seems reasonable to me. I used LOM for a client's project about 14-15 years ago. The client needed a production manufactured, custom designed, ceramic water bowl for a new line of indoor, table-top water fountains. I created the bowl (approximate dimensions 15" x 11" x 5") with the LOM process, then sanded, sealed and varnished it just like a piece of wood. We used the LOM prototype as the master for making the ceramic bowls. It worked great. I chose LOM because we needed a prototype that was very dimensionally stable with such large overall dimensions. I would use it again if there was an appropriate project.
I was going to include the welder-type of buildup process, but it is sort of obvious, I think. Besides, making parts that way is really not very efficient. At least not yet. But the robotic extrusion method ceratainly does have a bright future. But they are far different processes from the original 3D printing concept.
Of course, the paper-cutout lamination process is also different, I can see some interesting developments in that area. Shades of the replicators in that TV show. But possibly possible presently.
It does seem that now the limitations are software and immagination.
The ear actually seems like an ideal application for 3D printing, Rich. If it doesn't fit just right, if the material seems too soft or hard, it's easy enough to keep printing new ones until it's perfect.
This next link show a method of "direct manufacturing" for making large parts (like aircraft wing structures) within a large workspace, perhaps 25' x 5' x 5', or larger. Something like a MIG welder lays down a continuous bead to created a "near-net-shape" part... The a secondary conventional machining process is use to get to the part to the final dimensions. Check out the video. It is very interesting.
I'll be going to a "Battle of the 3D Printers" on the way in this Thursday. It is being billed as a 'fight to the finish'...
They will be running a Polyjet Printer against an FDM Printer. The finished parts will be judged for; finish, precision, time to print... and other important factors.
The battle will be taking place at a Dave and Busters just north of Philly, about 10 miles from where I work.
A lot of people I know are still denying that 3D printing is going to be a major part of the manufacturing industries future... I disagree. At some point the process will expand in directions that will revolutionize the shop floor.
On a personal side note, I have 25,000 words of a sci-fi book written. In one scene a reporter covering the maiden voyage of a 5k spherical space-ship needs a swimsuit to use in the low G lake... As she enters the beach-side shop on the sphere a scan of her is taken, and as she describes what she wants a hologram appears of her wearing a suit. After a few tweaks for color and style it is printed, and waiting for her a few seconds later in the changing room.
Speaking of chores Elizabeth.... Her companion tells the computer to 'print' his blue suit... indicating that they are recycled rather than washed after each use. NO MORE WASHING!
I better hurry and finish this book before this is old tech... instead of futuristic Ooooo ahhhh tech.
I can see an interesting area of the "more robotic" 3D printing, a bit more like the chocolate machine. Consider making stuff out of ceramics by laying down a string of that "slip" material. Another possibility would be building structures from long-strand fiberglass with a resin coating applied as it is extruded. Also, how about extruding a larger diameter string of glass fiber stiffened concrete to make outdoor furniture.
The very thin layers are fine for those items needing very fine details, but there is a whole huge realm of things built up with much coarser details. Of course, at some point it becomes much more a robotic process instead of the very thin process that we are familiar with. As we open up to somewhat different approaches the realm of things that can be produced grows very large. Of course, the robotic printing process will need a whole new level of robot direction software for it to be able to work from a cad file of some sort, but in that area the software will be the only obstacle, since industrial robots are a quite mature technology, as far as the hardware goes.
So if somebody takes one of these ideas and gets rich with it, just remember where the suggestion came from, keep the money and give me the credit.
Most of the items shown are gimmicks, in the sense that they were created solely to demonstrate the ability to make them by 3-D printing. For example, the stool could be far stronger and cheaper if made from wood. The plastic shoes and phone stand also look as though they could be made better and cheaper by conventional plastic molding. I have to admit that the gown, whether practical or not, is certainly besutiful on the model. Not so the cape.
The item that best exploits the one-of-a-kind capability of 3-D printing is the custom prosthetic jaw.
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.
Focus on Fundamentals consists of 45-minute on-line classes that cover a host of technologies. You learn without leaving the comfort of your desk. All classes are taught by subject-matter experts and all are archived. So if you can't attend live, attend at your convenience.