eBay providing this service illustrates how mainstream 3D printing will become, at lest in terms of reaching consumers. It will be interesting to see if they expand the offering beyond customizing a pool of preset designs (which is obviously limiting on the design side) to provide more generalized services for 3D printing. Excellent report.
In product marketing terms there are three product categories. Mass produced, mass customized and full custom. Mass customization has traditionally been applied to larger items, such as automobiles. 3D printing seems to be able to allow this to be extended to very inexpensive products. This is really a game changer. It will also promote more local manufacturing. That could be interesting as well.
A new service lets engineers and orthopedic surgeons design and 3D print highly accurate, patient-specific, orthopedic medical implants made of metal -- without owning a 3D printer. Using free, downloadable software, users can import ASCII and binary .STL files, design the implant, and send an encrypted design file to a third-party manufacturer.
For industrial control applications, or even a simple assembly line, that machine can go almost 24/7 without a break. But what happens when the task is a little more complex? That’s where the “smart” machine would come in. The smart machine is one that has some simple (or complex in some cases) processing capability to be able to adapt to changing conditions. Such machines are suited for a host of applications, including automotive, aerospace, defense, medical, computers and electronics, telecommunications, consumer goods, and so on. This discussion will examine what’s possible with smart machines, and what tradeoffs need to be made to implement such a solution.