3-D printing could fundamentally change industry!

Posted on 29th April 2013 in 3-D printing, Internet of Things

Years ago, an old friend named Steve Clay-Young told me about how Popular Science (or was it Popular Mechanics? oh well?) mobilized many craftsmen who had metal-working home shops into an important part of the WWII munitions effort by publishing plans that the craftsmen could execute on their home lathes, etc.

I thought back to that effort when reading this Industry Week article predicting that 3-D printing “could herald a new industrial revolution.” Amen!

It also reminded me of a speech I heard by Eric Drexler, the “father of nanotechnology,” back in the ’90s, in which he talked of a bread-box sized “factory” that could sit on your kitchen counter and grind out fully-functioning machines.

“‘In theory, anything that we have today can be produced through 3-D printing. It may just alter manufacturing as we know it,’ said Simon Jones, a technology expert at global law firm DLA Piper.”

It could end the inefficiency of one-size-fits-all mass production that both generates waste (unsold products) and doesn’t really satisfy individual consumers’ needs. Add in the potential to upgrade products’ functions through the Internet of Things, and you’d really have a revolution!

I particularly loved the example of “… customized screws for broken bones which match a patient’s specific anatomical characteristics and thereby cause less deterioration than the traditional variety.” Having suffered through rehab of a tibia that shattered in 6 pieces, I could really go for that!

Bring it on: I’ve got space reserved on my kitchen counter for my 3-D printer!

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