Is Rapid Prototyping Poised To Rapidly Explode?

from the fast-and-cheap dept

Rapid prototyping has gotten lots of attention as it has advanced from simple 3D printing to instant manufacturing. These days it’s almost getting to the point of rapid overhyping. We keep hearing about how mainstream use of the technology is on the horizon, and about new developments like prototyping medical treatments, but it still remains expensive and mostly limited to large-scale manufacturing operations. The latest advance, however, hopes to bring prototyping not only into the light of day, but also spread it around the world quickly and cheaply. An engineer in England says he’s created a prototyping machine that can also replicate itself. Others have tried to provide cheap access to such machines, but this latest self-replicating twist could make that much more attainable — perhaps generating new prototyping machines for as little as a few hundred dollars each. To speed its adoption, the machine’s creator is also making his design freely available online. This formula could lead to exponential growth and ubiquitous adoption. If so, the potential impact seems pretty big, as even the poorest areas could quickly get inexpensive access to industrial capabilities. Let’s just hope they don’t get too enamored of oddly shaped tables.

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Comments on “Is Rapid Prototyping Poised To Rapidly Explode?”

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Anonymous of course says:

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We’ve been hiring stereo laser lithography equipment for about 8 years now to produce prototypes for work. Expensive but very good. What’s really cool is a bit newer (to me.) Four years ago we started using a 3-D “printer” that lays down layers of fine sand mixed with glue. You shove a solidworks model into it and presto! Not as durable as the laser litho parts but often good enough for touchy feely stuff. I forget the price tag on the sand printer but believe it was in the sub-$30K range.

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