Wednesday, May 12, 2010

3D printing everywhere: commoditization of reality

Tridimensional TV is about to arrive, soon after the big boom of 3D movies currently exploding.

Tridimensional printing will be the next wave.

Technologies for tridimensional printing are not new, but recently they are getting a huge push and we will soon have low cost tridimensional printing at a very low cost.

This will probably completely change the world of manufacturing and have huge impact on logistics too.

Commoditization of reality means that manufacturing and distribution costs for whatever object will drop while availability will go up. This will be quite a revolutionary change in traditional manufacturing processes.

Tridimensional printing will evolve from easy to sell solutions for building simple things, in plastic and resins, to multi-material and high resolution and high precision objects.

Nanoscale three dimensional printing will ultimately allow to build whatever object in molecular resolution.

Some scientific data:

We currently have atomic scale accurate positioning in multilayer microelecronics, currently used in building memories and processors, with metals and semiconductors. These technologies are based on masking techniques, and thin layer (a few molecules) depositing of various materials.

We are developing increasing accurate technologies for 3-dimensional scanning, and currently the resolution of living tissue MRI imaging is ranging in the 20micrometers (20 * 10 ^-6 m) and we have MRFM (Magnetic Resonance Force Microscopy) able to "see" at resolution of some nanometers (5 * 10^-9 m).

There are significant studies available, like Minimal Manufacturing, by Kazuhiro Murata (AIST, Japan) where "ink" jet printing technology is considered as the future of manufacturing.
Current superfine ink jet printing can individually address and place sub micrometer sized dots (0.5 * 10^-6 m)

In the future, the difficulty will be not to build, because ink manufacturing will ease and allow much cheaper object building.

Advances in 3-d printing will allow cheap manufacturing, and very easy transition from design to objects.

Some pointers:

Do It yourself 3d printing:
Here is the reprap project, conceived to be completely open and self reproducing

RepRap from Adrian Bowyer on Vimeo.

And here is the makerbot project, similar, but less focused on self reproduction.

check also this for large scale object printing

3D printing is also for medical usage. Check organ printing and this.


( @mgua on twitter )


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