The first functional 3D printer prototype was built way back in 1984. This year, its inventor, Chuck Hull, is being inducted into the National Inventors Hall Of Fame. [via TechCrunch]
This puts him up in the ranks, in the U.S. Patent Office’s eyes, with Thomas Edison, Jobs/Woz, the Wright Brothers, Einstein, and Eli Whitney.
In 1984, Hull had a realization: if you pointed a highly focused UV light at a special, goopy material (called a “photopolymer” ), the material would instantly turn solid wherever the light would touch. If you did this repeatedly, layer by layer, you could “print” an object into existence. He dubbed it “stereolithography“, and bam! 3D printing was born.
It seems hard to believe that the world of 3-D printing has been around long enough to warrant a documentary—Bre Pettis’ company MakerBot has been around barely five years—but yet one is already in the can.
"Print the Legend" (teaser above) follows the “Macintosh moment” 3-D printing has had over the last few years.
The documentary which will premiere March 9 at the South By Southwest Film Festival, follows the people racing to bring 3D printing to your desktop and into your life. For the winners, there are fortunes – and history – to be made.
"Print the Legend" is both the definitive 3D Printing Documentary – capturing a tech in the midst of its “Macintosh Moment” – and a compelling tale about what it takes to live the American Dream in any field.
A wonderful article in The Economist explaining the different printing processes and detailing at length, the history of McCor Technologies 3D printers that use paper.
There are more than a dozen sorts of three-dimensional (3D) printer. They all build up objects, layer by layer, but what the layers are made of varies from one to another. Some extrude filaments of molten plastic. Some spray special “inks”, such as liquid polymers that solidify when exposed to ultraviolet light. Some use powdered plastic or powdered metal that is then fixed in place with a laser or an electron beam. Now there is yet another way. Staples, an office-supplies company, has introduced it at its store in Almere in the Netherlands. And the layers their machine prints are made of a substance that Staples has in abundance: A4 sheets of paper.
The process was invented by Conor MacCormack, an Irish aerospace engineer, and his brother Fintan, an electrical engineer. They worked with 3D printers but found the materials expensive. (Many manufacturers put a high markup on their bespoke printing materials, just as the producers of 2D printers do on their ink.) The MacCormacks therefore set out to make a full-colour 3D printer with exceptionally low operating costs. They call the result “Selective Deposition Lamination” (SDL) and they reckon the cost of the paper needed for it works out at about 5% of the cost of the materials for other 3D systems.
A wonderful animated slideshow presentation by CNN on how 3D printing will reshape our world.
Would you like to print out the weekly shopping in the comfort of your own home? Perhaps you're in the market for a new body part printed from your own cells? OK, you might have to wait a decade or two, but 3D printing technology is likely to change our lives forever.
With the costs of the machinery nearing mass-market levels, 3D printing is poised to take off, blurring the distinction between digital and physical realms, democratising manufacturing and turning large chunks of the global economy upside-down. The Telegraph reports.
The benefits of 3D printing are so massive that it would be economic suicide for any nation to ban the technology, or regulate it out of existence. It would certainly be equally mad to downplay its risks, and its safe use will require a major change in policing techniques, but the benefits from its mass adoption will outweigh its costs.
The new technology will be the first real challenge to the traditional top-down economics of mass production for manufactured goods.
One of 3D printing’s strongest selling points is its prototyping capabilities. A single 3D printer can produce several iterations of a design in the same day for just a few dollars. That’s a considerable efficiency gain over the weeks and thousands of dollars it takes to do the same thing with injection molding.
Prototyping with 3D printing isn’t limited to million dollar companies; personal 3D printers have prototyping capabilities too.
The 3D printing industry will be an extremely important part of the industry and our daily lives.
In this article, Seeking Alpha contributor will try to explain the uses and how this industry can change the manufacturing industry.
-- AM can alter the assembly line; a lot of stations can be eliminated by the use of AM. Some pieces can be produced at a single station and it can eliminate the need of assembling these products at different stations.
-- AM can eliminate the use of outsourced products. At the moment, a lot of parts are produced in different factories and brought to the final product assembly station, which can be time consuming. AM can allow the manufacturing process to go smoothly by producing custom parts close to the final product assembly station.
-- The current manufacturing process involves creating a vast range of tools, and it can sometimes be time consuming if there is a change needed in the manufacturing process. However, AM eliminates the need of making molds.
-- On the supply chain front, AM can allow the company to manage its inventory better. Parts/final products can be printed according to the needs of the customer on demand. As a result, warehouses might not be needed, and it will present the companies with a serious option to cut down the costs.
-- And finally, the need of labor will be reduced substantially.
Forbes on how 3D printing may not be about owning a printer and printing yourself - but using a service to print for you.
Anyone wanting access to 3D printing services can get it from companies like Shapeways, Sculpteo, or Materialise, each of which can put the type of high-end 3D printing technology into the hands of creative types required to make anything from toys and puzzles to jewelry and clothing.
But it’s not just about the printing. The combination of the Internet and 3D printing technology creates an opportunity for artists, makers and entrepreneurs to sell their own creations to others using online marketplaces.
Harvard Business Review on how 3D printing, by enabling a machine to produce objects of any shape, on the spot and as needed, is ushering in a new era.
As applications of the technology expand and prices drop, the first big implication is that more goods will be manufactured at or close to their point of purchase or consumption. This might even mean household-level production of some things. Many goods that have relied on the scale efficiencies of large, centralized plants will be produced locally.
Even if the per-unit production cost is higher, it will be more than offset by the elimination of shipping and of buffer inventories. Whereas cars today are made by just a few hundred factories around the world, they might one day be made in every metropolitan area. Parts could be made at dealerships and repair shops, and assembly plants could eliminate the need for supply chain management by making components as needed.
Another implication is that goods will be infinitely more customized, because altering them won’t require retooling, only tweaking the instructions in the software.
Much attention has been paid to 3D Printing lately, with new companies developing cheaper and more efficient consumer models that have wowed the tech community. They herald 3D Printing as a revolutionary and disruptive technology, but how will these printers truly affect our society?
Beyond an initial novelty, 3D Printing could have a game-changing impact on consumer culture, copyright and patent law, and even the very concept of scarcity on which our economy is based. From at-home repairs to new businesses, from medical to ecological developments, 3D Printing has an undeniably wide range of possibilities which could profoundly change our world.
This video of a National Geographic TV-produced program featuring Z Corporation titled, Known Universe, went viral on YouTube, with over 6.8+ million views.
in a blog post dated July 15, 2011, Joe Titlow, VP of Product Management, Z Corporation wrote:
Because this has been the first time so many people have been introduced to this technology, there also appear to be some skeptics. There were some comments professing the technology to be a fake and even insinuating that the video was meant to deceive the viewing public.
As a Z Corp employee and the person who appeared in the video, I can assure you that this video and technology is most certainly NOT faked.
[i]magine a world in which you can get exactly what you want, and not what is just available...Imagine if you only made what you need, or imagine if you are a designer and could bring your product to market in days, not years. Imagine products that can all be made locally. 3D printing is relevant for everyone, regardless of your technological background - Peter Weijmarshausen, co-founder and CEO of 3D printing company Shapeways,
I'm new to 3D printing but everything I read fills me with excitement and anticipation. There is such a sense — just like the early Internet days — that something big is happening and the world is about to change irrevocably, again.
But what I loved the most, was finding out how 3D printing could be used for the social good. Here are my favorite projects for 2012:
1. 3D printing could make a huge difference to emergency responses, saving a fortune by printing things like tools, basic items and equipment on the ground from recycled materials, rather than flying them in from other countries.
2.3D printed houses could rid the world of poverty-stricken slums characterised by make-shift corrugated iron shacks. Professor Behrock Khoshnevis' project would use materials costing 25 per cent less than traditional houses and would cut labour costs in half.
3. Perhaps my favorite project, from Kenya, 3D Printed shoes to alleviate jigger sufferers. Called Happy Feet, the project aims to use 3d printing to make customised shoes for people suffering from Jigger. Thus a right shoe can be made differently than a left, depending on the level of infestation. The shoes would be manufactured from reused plastic and would also be recyclable once they are worn out.
4. And finally, the "Homeless snow globe" a jewel of a concept and campaign by clever ad agency BBH to raise awareness on the plight of the homeless in Birtain. The homeforxmas.org website invited visitors to make a donation. Each day BBH selected one donor and made them a 3D printed snowglobe — featuring their own house.
An excellente article from Innovation Investment Journal explaining the short comings of 3D printing today and what it will take for 3D printing to actually replace manufacturing technology.
The cost of creating things using a 3D printer ‘goes down with complexity’: the more complex the item being printed, the less it costs to print it.
Usually, the more complicated something is (i.e., the more parts and sub-parts it is made from and the more complex the resulting assembly process happens to be) the more it costs to make.
But, bizarrely enough, 3D printing doesn’t tend to ‘struggle’ in any cost-incurring way based upon how intricate the design of the item being manufactured happens to be: a 3D printer prints a complex 3D shape just as easily as it prints a simple one.
... If you were wondering which unflattering terms manufacturing industry insiders use to characterise the shortcomings of 3D printing when compared to other forms of industrial production, you might want to check these out:
3D printers are now cheap enough to buy for the home, and even if you can't afford one yet, it's possible to buy all manner of objects online, printed to order. Proponents claim that the technology will revolutionise how we shop, and even how we come to see the objects we use everyday.
We'll soon be downloading and printing physical possessions as easily as we download music, they say, and customising objects to meet all our individual needs.
Yet many of the claims seem more like science fiction, and this year, the hype has been peaking.
... The numerous gotchas for personal 3D printing are becoming clearer. It's currently slow, with complicated models taking hours to fully finish. Then there are the twin enemies of gravity and friction. Complex models often require extra material to support various parts so that they do not collapse during printing. And there's always a risk that the object will become unstuck from the base plate, or that layers will split apart during printing, possibly requiring the print job to be restarted from scratch.
Many of these challenges will probably be worked out as hardware improves, but more lurk ahead.
Additive manufacturing has five key attributes that could help places as different as the United States and Pakistan enhance their climate-resilience, and ultimately, their security. AlertNet reports.
... Additive manufacturing is also inherently energy efficient. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, additive manufacturing on average uses 50 percent less energy and saves up to 90 percent on materials costs compared to traditional manufacturing. Because one prints only the desired product, it greatly reduces the amount of materials used, and the energy required for manufacturing.
Furthermore, since additive manufacturing involves sending data around the world via the internet, rather than sending physical materials, shipping, packaging and storage is reduced to almost nil, which dramatically reduces energy use.
In five, years every home in America will have a 3D printer. Greg Spielberg reports for VentureBeat.
TechCrunch’s Jon Evans and Microsoft’s Tom Blank, however, don’t share my view. They envision a future where Home Depot and Kinkos-style shops fill local needs while online markets focus on larger projects and more intense customization, leaving no room for personal printers.
Big companies have already caught on to the technology. Amazon, for example, is planning to install commercial printers in all of its U.S. factories and Staples is rolling out 3D equipment in its European stores.
But the Home Depot and Staples models aren’t going to be nearly as popular as home printing. Why? Because the product chain is just too bulky and unpleasant.
... Personal manufacturing has the same allure as Web 2.0: It’s a social industry where we can create and bond at the same time. Businessweek’s Ashlee Vance tells the endearing anecdote of fathers and sons creating with the same casual vibe of playing catch. And that’s something you can’t do at Kinkos.
Once considered science fiction, the ability to do 3D printing – to produce objects on demand at relatively low cost – has become a reality. And the trend is going to pick up steam in 2013. Forbes reports.
Here’s a look at 10 trends to watch in 3D printing next year and beyond.
1. 3D printing becomes industrial strength. Once reserved for prototypes and toys, 3D printing will become industrial strength. ...
2. 3D printing starts saving lives. 3D-printed medical implants will improve the quality of life of someone close to you. ...
3. Customization becomes the norm. You will buy a product, customized to your exact specifications, which is 3D-printed and delivered to your doorstep. ...
4. Product innovation is faster. Everything from new car models to better home appliances will be designed more rapidly, bringing innovation to you faster. ...
5. New companies develop innovative business models built on 3D printing. You will invest in a 3D printing company’s IPO. ...
6. 3D print shops open at the mall. 3D print shops will begin to appear, at first servicing local markets with high-quality 3D printing services. ...
7. Heated debates on who owns the rights emerge. The ability to easily copy, share, modify and print 3D objects will ignite a new wave of intellectual property issues. ...
8. New products with magical properties will tantalize us. Combining new materials, nano scale and printed electronics will seem magical compared to today’s manufactured products. ...
9. New machines grace the factory floor. Expect to see 3D printing machines appearing in factories. ...
10. “Look what I made!” Your children will bring home 3D printed projects from school. ...
... The old rules of manufacturing, such as “you must seek economies of scale” and “you must reduce unit-labour costs”, are being cast aside. New machines can print every item differently. More flexible robots are getting cheaper and better at doing all the boring and dirty stuff.
Add to that another 1.8 billion consumers who will join the global marketplace in the next 15 years and “Manufacturing the Future”, a new report by the McKinsey Global Institute, has good cause to be optimistic. Demand will grow not only for basic goods (which are typically made in developing countries) but also for the costly, innovative gadgets and high-tech products that rich countries make. McKinsey reckons that rich countries will keep making such products better than anyone else.
Our research has seen us explore four different social futures around 3D printing.
They were shaped by how corporate this new industrial revolution will be and how much individuals will engage with the technology. In particular we were interested in how 3D printing might influence the transportation of objects and the travel of people.
In order to find out what futures might be, where 3D printing has significance (or not), we held a workshop with the Futures Company in London, and picked the brains of engineers, consultants, policymakers and designers. The four possible futures are below:
1. Home factories - Everyone has a 3D printer in their home sitting next to their paper printer and making plastic jewellery, kitchen utensils, toys, models, homework projects and non-critical replacement parts.
2. Print shops - Companies are integrating high-end 3D printers that print all sorts of exotic materials – from steel and titanium to sandstone and carbon fibre – into their supply chains and retail outlets.
3. Fab labs - Groups of people work together on not-for-profit or subsidised printers provided with support services and technicians.
4. The 3D bubble - The market bubble has burst as inflated expectations have caused 3D printing to be severely over-hyped.
3D Printer offers their vision of the futur with the 3D Atom Printer (!) and explains along the way how new replicators, easier-to-use CAD software and a camera app — have helped pave the way.
... As the technology got better, the computers smarter, the lasers sharper, and the people much more clever, these 3D printers became cheaper to make, which made it cheaper to buy.
And people, do-it-yourselfers in niche 3D printing communities on the Internet, people called “Makers” started, well, making. They started building their own printers cheaper and cheaper.
Finally, they made that one printer that would change the face of the technology: the RepRap that was meant to be able to replicate itself.
3D design software was tough to use, CAD software normally reserved for architects, engineers, and video game designers. But then Tinkercad came out, an online 3D modelling program so simple anyone could learn to use it.
Then came Autodesk, a camera app that could take a 360 degree shot of any object and turn it into a 3D model, enabling anyone to copy just about anything.
One of the best articles I've read on 3D printing and where it's headed. From SmartPlanet.
... At what point will 3D printing move beyond novelty to industry? Will these machines change the way we manufacture goods, and subsequently change the global economy, too? (Is it already happening before our very eyes?)
The answer: yes and no. The term “3D printing” comprises two very different worlds: hobbyist 3D printing, where people with relatively inexpensive machines print plastic objects in the comfort of their homes; and industrial 3D printing, which is usually referred to by another name: additive manufacturing. They are vastly different and will likely have divergent impacts on the economy. Both, however, are poised to alter the way businesses think about production.
... Whether for leisure or line production, the predicted effects of the 3D printing process are manifold and immense. All it takes is a few big companies to sign on to set in motion a major shift in global markets, Cherie Ann Sherman, an economist at Ramapo College in New Jersey says. “These companies don’t see the technology as ripe yet,” she said. “Once they take a step in that direction, that’s when it will really have its impact.”
Geomagic's Ping Fu, Shapeways' Peter Weijmarshausen and PARC's Stephen Hoover spoke at the Techonomy conference in Tucson, Ariz. CNET's Paul Sloan moderated.
At the Techonomy conference, industry leaders discuss the future of three-dimensional printing -- and how the technology will change markets forever. C/net reports.
-- "Printing goes beyond product that you can see and touch. Guitars, tables, board games -- those objects can be printed today. But food, organs, bones, houses? Those "will take probably 10 years to come.
-- "You can start solving problems that were hard to solve before," he said. "You don't need a mass market anymore to bring these products to life. You can use 3D printing to make improbable products -- products you couldn't make before."
-- For now, 3D printing will remain a prosumer pursuit. Four companies control most of the market for serious 3D printers, though companies like MakerBot are making inroads with enthusiasts. The quality of those machines may not be as good, but "it gets people excited," Fu said. "The PC was not that good [when it first came out] either. But it got better."
-- All markets in the future will be niche markets- Twenty-first century manufacturing is going to be on-demand."
-- The possibilities for 3D printing are almost endless. "You go from life-saving to lifestyle,"
That's the evolution."
Doesn't that sound a lot like hype?
-- "I believe that advanced manufacturing is coming, on-demand manufacturing is coming, and it's going to be a very significant 21st century advancementt. I don't think what's happening is hype. It's basically 15 years' worth of overnight success.
A great article by FreshHome explaining 3D printing. Why after nearly 30 years of existence, it's really taking off now and how it's affecting the design and manufacturing processes.
Early 3D Printing machines were used solely for making Rapid Prototyping (RP) models used during product development. These early RP models had very limited strength and would often deform or degrade within weeks or even days of manufacture. But given that they were only being used to assess a product’s shape or form, that was acceptable at the time.
As the technology has matured, so the range of materials available to us has increased, and with this has come improvements in mechanical properties and longevity. We can now produce parts in metals such as titanium or gold, polymers such as ABS, Nylon and polycarbonate or ceramics such as aluminum or zirconium.
In parallel, the technologies have become larger and faster, making them more productive and more economic in terms of volume production. It is the coupling on increased productivity with increased material suitability that is driving the technology into main stream production applications in areas such as orthopaedic implants, dental caps and crowns, hearing aids, mobile phone cases, prosthetic limb covers and home interior products.
People. Listen. 3D printing is not just 2D printing with another dimension added on. Yes, the names are very similar, but their uses are not even remotely analogous. We may reasonably conclude, therefore, that:
1) 3D printing will not recapitulate the history of 2D printing,
2) as soon as you make an argument along those lines you lose all credibility and look like an idiot.
... 3D printing is indeed revolutionary. Just ask, well, potential revolutionaries. Or the U.S. military. Or the EFF, out in front of the big issues as usual. Today’s 3D printers are the nascent edge of a technology that will ultimately entirely transform our collective relationship with stuff. They are a big deal.
3D printing is a mind-blowing process, but you might be surprised to learn that it’s not a new technology. It was developed in the late ’80s and has been used extensively for prototyping. What’s new is that the technology is no longer reserved for big companies — in recent years, it has finally made the jump to the mainstream consumer market.