Manufacturing Renaissance: Ubiquitous Instant Production (Part-VI)
Affordable Desktop Personal 3DP Systems.
It has been a long time coming, but affordable desktop Personal 3DP now offers the potential to move a lot of basic manufacturing into the home. I am, however, reminded by my technical godfathers – even with my strategic foresight capabilities – that full blown high speed, high resolution, multimaterial Personal 3DP is some way off.
My retort is, do not forget Kurzweil’s Accelerating Returns Curve, the classic Moore’s Law, and my Space of Innovation Possibilities equation: Pn=Na(Na -1)/2. Technological innovation influenced by information is getting faster and faster opening evermore possibility spaces.
Right now low-res 3DP systems for home utility, schools craft, youth/activity clubs, artists, hardcore hobbyists, and plethora of other front-line spaces are rolling out. Kids are now Sketching-up colourfully designed projects and printing them out for school projects. 3D artists are sculpturing geometric structures not achieved before. Small businesses are designing and making custom solution instantly. Nuevo-fashion houses, jewellery designer, not least domestic DIY and last minute ‘chores’ is happening now.
Think about it. Your washing machine door handle splits and breaks. Now no need to drive to the wholesaler or wait for a new handle to be delivered. Just download the 3D model from the vendors website, and print it out and fix! And this is happening now.
Here are some examples of affordable desktop personal 3DP systems. MakerBot Industries, a New York based outfit, produce the Replicator, aimed at the prosumer. Replicator 2.0 costs $2,199, prints to a resolution of 0.1mm.
Solidoodle is an affordable, Out-of-the-Box 3DP at only $499! Solidoodle meets the needs of the majority of people via quality, affordability, and ease of use. Once the software is installed, using Google Sketchup a very intuitive modeling program, it can print objects at 100mm3. Slight limitations, such as overhangs and angles limited to about 60 degrees. But aside from that the possibilities are limited only by your imagination.
RepRap, Morgan aims to be the first manufacturer of 3DP selling under $100. The vision is to make it easy for anyone to build a 3D printer at home, without needing expensive materials, and hard to find components.
One other tantalizing example here is AIO Robotics Zeus, the first all-in-one 3D office copier, combining additive and subtractive manufacturing capabilities into a single product: including 3DP, 3D scanner, copier and fax machine. Using HD camera pictures from a sweeping 3D laser, objects can be instantly captured in a digital 3D software model. Zeus is far from a Star Trek replicator, but one has to say it is yet another beginning. It is quite possible to digitally scan an object in the US, beam (on-line) the 3D model data to another Zeus (or indeed any other 3DP machine) the other side of the world. In fact, when the International Space Station has 3DP on board, beam it up there! Beam me up Scotty!!
Hence, such home, school and small company office 3DP will unleash people’s pent up creativity. Think of all the design and art and cut and past that goes on now on the personal computer via ubiquitous, freeware graphic design apps. When 3DP is everywhere – ‘BANG’ – just wait!
From an industry growth prospective, the above lower-cost 3DP systems have begun to bring the physical third dimension objects into the mindset of the ordinary folk. Only a few years ago, if you were to bring up the subject at a dinner party or at the pub at the weekend, you would be met with silence and swift move on to other matters. Mark my words. Five years from this writing the subject will be common language at leisure, etc.