Bleeding Edge

by Mike Masnick




3D Printers.. Closer Than You Think?

from the disruptive-technology-indeed dept

We've written about 3D printers a few times before. Last time, we noted that they were starting to move out of just the "rapid prototyping" space into the instant manufacturing space. Now, Howard Rheingold is predicting that advances in 3D printing are coming along a lot faster than most of us would expect, and they might become quite common much sooner than most people predicted. As Rheingold points out, 3D printers have the potential to be a truly disruptive technology. He points out that they'll let people create new things that weren't possible before. He also touches on the biggest issue I see if such printers become common. How will the world deal with things when we have a "Napster for devices"? Suddenly, even tangible items will be "shareable". All anyone will need is the plans (and the core building materials) and they'll be able to print-on-demand whatever products they want. The impact on so many different businesses would be profound. If you think the entertainment industry is going crazy about file sharing nowadays, just imagine how people will react to a world where manufactured products are just as easily shared and recreated. At the same time, think of the potential benefits, where people could more easily design a product and let others improve on it at will.

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  • identicon
    Mike, 3 Feb 2004 @ 1:34pm

    Getting closer to star trek all the time...

    Finally. I can print a car part and not pay the dealership 40x what it is worth! The only people who will complain about such technology will be:

    1) Companies who make parts that will be easily made at home, and the people who hold the patents on said parts.

    2) Dictator type governments that ban the sale of certain things that can now be "printed at home".

    Basically, the "man" is the only thing keeping this from benefiting the entire world. You still won't obviously be able to print computer chips, etc, or will you? I would think it would be next to impossible to duplicate things like that. You'd need a bill of materials, the blue prints, etc.

    This tech may lower the cost of goods though, which is always a good thing.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 3 Feb 2004 @ 2:07pm

      Re: Getting closer to star trek all the time...

      yeah, and the research for new car designs will be offset by .. .. what, then ? People who take valuable time out from their panhandling so they can discuss the benefits of having this piece totated just so?

      The US is falling apart from its lowest-bidder mentality, and this free objects thing is just the next step. Why, now that we're printing our own housewares, what will Ikea do? Who's gonna fix your manifold after you printed up a cheap one on your coarse-resolution 3dlpr? You think your collection loosely-fitting parts is gonna be either efficient or compliant to any quality standards?

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Adrian Anders, 3 Feb 2004 @ 2:51pm

        Re: Getting closer to star trek all the time...

        Well, now maybe with "open-source" type manufacturing, the individual can build at home what he/she wants or needs, and not relying upon a dying economic system (namely capitalism in the traditional sense). Now, I'm not advocating pure socialism, and I sure as hell am not an anarchist, but perhaps with the new technological advancements we are starting to witness (AI, 3D printing, advanced robotics, etc) a new era for mankind can be forged. A new social/political/economic order based upon freedom of ideas and technology. Maybe instead of the pursuit of wealth, humanity will be in the pursuit of knowledge, and that will become the currency of the future.

        But on the other hand you could just act like the 21st century version of a mercantilist, holding on to policies that are no longer relevant. This may not be a race to the bottom, but rather a race to freeing all of mandkind. After all, if you can produce everything you need yourself, it kinda defeats the purpose of money.

        ATA

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • icon
          Mike (profile), 3 Feb 2004 @ 3:19pm

          Re: Getting closer to star trek all the time...

          I'm a bit confused how any of this is anything *but* capitalistic. The rise of new technologies that makes the means of production cheaper... that's basic capitalism at work.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Tim Oren, 3 Feb 2004 @ 3:48pm

      Hyperventilation

      Dig a little deeper, and you'll find that the range of materials that can be assembled in this fashion is rather limited in its chemistry and mechanical and electrical characteristics as yet. Still a LONG way from any form of universal replicator - it's more like we're in the days of trying to milk true color graphics out of Apple IIs. Expanding the 'pallette' of formable materials, that's where the money will be.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Dan, 3 Feb 2004 @ 6:04pm

      Re: Getting closer to star trek all the time...

      Actually, you can print a computer chip. The only problem is that it would be slow. It takes a lot of technology and many different processes to create a Pentium 4 chip or an AMD Athlon 64 FX chip. You could print special one task chips that should be able to handle their tasks but a general CPU would currently be impossible. With nanotechnology, that limitation is gone and it's olly, olly, oxenfree!

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Mikester, 3 Feb 2004 @ 1:56pm

    No Subject Given

    Earl Grey tea, hot.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 3 Feb 2004 @ 2:39pm

    No Subject Given

    BBSpot did a great satire on this last year:

    http://www.bbspot.com/News/2003/07/hardster.html

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]


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