Why 2014 will be a great year for 3D printing | SmartPlanet

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There’s no denying that 2013 has been the year of the desktop 3D printer. They’re now carried by major retailers, like Amazon and Staples; Windows 8.1 has built-in support for 3D printers; and Makerbot, the popular desktop printing company was aquired by Stratasys, a much larger additive manufacturing company. But, while U.S. President Barack Obama called 3D printing the “next revolution” in manufacturing earlier this year, it’s 2014 that could be the year industrial 3D printing takes off.

Why? As Christopher Mims of Quartz reports, important patents for the more advanced selective laser sintering form of 3D printing (which has been around for decades) will expire next February. While these patents have been the highest revenue generating intellectual property of University of Texas for years, their expiration could mean cheaper industrial-grade 3D printers — much like what happened when fused deposition modeling (FDM) patents expired — and wider distribution of laser sintering 3D printers, which isn’t currently happening on a scale that can be true disruptive in the manufacturing world. As Mims reports:

One of Shapeways’ problems is that the company can’t buy enough advanced 3D printers (the laser-sintering kind) to keep up with demand. This is because 3D Systems, the company that makes the models that Shapeways uses, has a 12- to 18-month waitlist for its printers. Cheap laser-sintering 3D printers of the sort made by Formlabs, which sells a desktop laser-sintering 3D printer for $3,300, could finally give people the ability to manufacture (plastic) parts of the same quality as those mass-produced through traditional means.

The bottom line: Starting next year, industrial-grade 3D printing could become cheaper and more accessible, a boon to those hopeful that 3D printing can transform manufacturing.

SOURCE:  http://www.smartplanet.com/blog/bulletin/why-2014-will-be-a-great-year-for-3d-printing/24787?tag=nl.e660&s_cid=e660&ttag=e660&ftag=TRE4eb29b5

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Radical Abundance: How a Revolution in Nanotechnology Will Change Civilization | Kurzweil AI

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K. Eric Drexler is known as the founding father of nanotechnology—the science of engineering on a molecular level. In Radical Abundance, he shows how rapid scientific progress is about to change our world. Thanks to atomically precise manufacturing, we will soon have the power to produce radically more of what people want, and at a lower cost. The result will shake the very foundations of our economy and environment.

Already, scientists have constructed prototypes for circuit boards built of millions of precisely arranged atoms. The advent of this kind of atomic precision promises to change the way we make things—cleanly, inexpensively, and on a global scale. It allows us to imagine a world where solar arrays cost no more than cardboard and aluminum foil, and laptops cost about the same.

A provocative tour of cutting edge science and its implications by the field’s founder and master, Radical Abundance offers a mind-expanding vision of a world hurtling toward an unexpected future.

The topics include:

  • The nature of science and engineering, and the prospects for a deep transformation in the material basis of civilization.
  • Why all of this is surprisingly understandable.
  • A personal narrative of the emergence of the molecular nanotechnology concept and the turbulent history of progress and politics that followed
  • The quiet rise of macromolecular nanotechnologies, their power, and the rapidly advancing state of the art
  • Incremental paths toward advanced nanotechnologies, the inherent accelerators, and the institutional challenges
  • The technologies of radical abundance, what they are, and what they will enable
  • Disruptive solutions for problems of economic development, energy, resource depletion, and the environment
  • Potential pitfalls in competitive national strategies; shared interests in risk reduction and cooperative transition management
  • Steps toward changing the conversation about the future

SOURCE:  http://www.kurzweilai.net/radical-abundance-how-a-revolution-in-nanotechnology-will-change-civilization?utm_source=KurzweilAI+Daily+Newsletter&utm_campaign=bf949c636d-UA-946742-1&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_6de721fb33-bf949c636d-282030338

Star Trek replicator is closer to reality than you think | BetaNews

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In video “Can Nanotechnology Create Utopia?” physicist Michio Kaku talks about the upsides, downsides, insides and outsides of having a replicator like on Star Trek to make anything we’d ever need or want. It’s a compelling vision and he’s right that its implications go far beyond the economic to include cultural, social, even psychological. Kaku says it’s possible to make such a device and suggests we’ll have it in 100 years.

I say we’ll have it in 20.

A longtime friend of mine has significant pieces of a replicator functioning in his lab right now. He’s no mad scientist but a respected engineer who is known for his broad technical interests. Right now he can’t make you a mug of Earl Grey (hot), but he can lay down in nanoseconds trillions of atoms of any abundant element, placing those atoms not just in perfect rows, but also placing them in intricate patterns with other atoms to create familiar combinations as well as new materials the world has never seen before.

He is already creating new materials with unique properties that couldn’t exist before simply because no materials have ever been built by men or women to such precision.

Except they have been built to such precision and are every day inside plants and animals, just as Kaku cites the ribosome building a baby.

What’s going on here seems to be the same ability to replicate on a nanoscale that allows plant cell walls to be straight and rectilinear. It’s a self-organizing effect. It may be what makes life even possible at all.

Of course what my friend has done is very crude. The present procedure could eliminate the need for rare earth elements. It could make a fabulous substrate for semiconductors and a few years from now might make the semiconductors themselves with sub-nanometer precision. But it’s a long way from there to Earl Grey (hot).

Yet look at our rate of progress in decoding the human genome — something that 30 years ago was impossible yet today the only question is how much it costs, with that cost dropping in line with Moore’s Law.

What will my friend be able to build with his machine a decade from now?

DNA may be the blueprint for life, but it is not the factory. Going from blueprint to prototype requires an additive building technology and this is one that might work and there may well be others.

There’s going to be trouble, I’m sure, as people and institutions are threatened by the implications of these technologies just as Kaku explains so well.

What comes to my mind is the famous Pogo cartoon where the little ‘possum says “We have met the enemy and he is us”. Do you remember the line from the next panel in that strip? Hardly anybody does.

“We are surrounded by insurmountable opportunity”.

SOURCE:  http://betanews.com/2012/11/08/star-trek-replicator-is-closer-to-reality-than-you-think/

PREDICTION: Amazon and 3D Printing | Ecommercetimes

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Why would Amazon be interested in 3D printing? My guess that Amazon might be interested is because it is currently adding warehouses throughout the United States with a not-so-long-term goal of being able to offer same-day delivery to its customers.

The extent of Amazon’s product offerings is quite breathtaking. Consider that it is not only a powerhouse in book retailing; it also is selling such things as consumer electronics, retail goods, computer services and digital content. Its computer infrastructure is so substantial that it is currently renting it to companies of all sizes on a worldwide basis.

The fact is that Amazon has become a retail and technological behemoth. What’s next for this amazing company, manufacturing? How and why would such a company change its business Free White Paper: Simple Strategies for Enhancing eCommerce Profitability model and venture into something so mundane as manufacturing?

Amazon Is Well Situated

I’m not sure if Amazon would venture into manufacturing, but we do have a new industrial revolution on our hands today. Companies are able to “print” products via 3D printers. In a July article, I wrote about the type of future I believe possible for 3D printing.

In that article, I say: “3D printing is quite a bit unlike conventional printing in that a so-called printer makes an actual three-dimensional (not virtual) object. 3D printing is also called “additive manufacturing” because an object is made by continually adding layer after layer of raw material based upon a design that comes from a digital file.”

Why would Amazon be interested in 3D printing? My guess that Amazon might be interested is because it is currently adding warehouses throughout the United States with a not-so-long-term goal of being able to offer same-day delivery to its customers. With warehouses strategically located throughout the country, it would be able to set up 3D printing facilities within them, thus making three-dimensional products (manufactured products) conveniently available to major population centers.

Amazon’s Technological Depth

I can’t imagine that anyone could reasonably argue that Amazon is not a major technological powerhouse. Its computer infrastructure is so massive that it is renting out its excess capacity to companies throughout the world, as well as to governments, including agencies of the U.S. Government.

With such technological depth, it would seem to be an easy reach for Amazon to get into 3D printing, especially given the fact that it is currently expanding its warehousing presence throughout our country.

So, if technology and logistics don’t seem to be the problem, what would deter Amazon from setting up its own 3D printers? The only obstacle that I see is product offering. Could it offer enough products to make this new direction worthwhile?

Target Products for 3D Printers

I recently browsed Amazon’s site to come up with some initial offerings for its possible 3D printing business. In my opinion, the offerings are breathtaking and easily adapted to what I know as the present-day state of 3D printing.

The first category that I searched was “Tools & Home Improvement.” Under that category, I looked at hammers. It just so happens, for example, that hammers could be easily manufactured using 3D printers. They are not made of moving parts. (Moving parts make 3D printing more difficult.) Amazon has quite an assortment of hammers available. In fact, it has more than 15,000! Not bad for a starting point!

My next search was for screwdrivers — another product easily manufactured by a 3D printer. In this case, I came up with more than 20,000 results.

Using one’s imagination and the benefits of Amazon’s broad spectrum of product offerings, it seems that Amazon might be well situated to consider 3D manufacturing.

Just in Time Manufacturing

Amazon revolutionized the publishing business by allowing writers to self-publish paperbacks and e-books. Their trick with paperbacks that are self-published through Amazon is to have no inventory at all. This is a wonderful example of just-in-time manufacturing (JIT).

JIT eliminates the need for Amazon to keep an inventory of the thousands of books that people have self-published through Amazon’s Create Space affiliate. When an order for a book arrives at Amazon, it merely has to send an electronic message to its printing arm asking it to print out and ship the requisite copies — no inventory costs and no printing of books unless an order comes through. Efficiency at its best!

In fact, I have recently published a book through Amazon, Mother’s Guide to Daily Living, and I found the process seamless and efficient.

With 3D printing, Amazon would merely have to “manufacture” products as the orders come in: no inventory, no storage, and no fuss. This would be somewhat similar to how Amazon revolutionized the publishing business. With 3D printing, Amazon could conceivably become the leader of another Industrial Revolution.

Getting Into the 3D Printing Business

Let’s carry my speculation further. If Amazon were interested in getting into the 3D printing business, would it make sense to start from scratch? Of course, the only ones who could answer that question would be the management of Amazon. I do, however, have some suggestions.

There currently exist manufacturers of 3D printers that should be able to handle the manufacture of several home improvement products that Amazon is offering. Instead of investing in the research and the manufacturing facilities for a new line of 3D printers, Amazon would merely have to acquire some printers and get started on a completely new venture — manufacturing.

One question that comes to mind is whether Amazon’s present suppliers would be so put out with Amazon eliminating some of their products that they would withdraw from providing all their goods to Amazon. I really can’t imagine that, because I can’t think of a situation where it would benefit a supplier to refuse to supply product to Amazon. If a supplier has a well-known brand name, it shouldn’t be overly threatened by Amazon’s competing with them.

Amazon would probably in turn lend its name to a brand of tools that it could offer at prices competitive with well-known brands. After all, if Amazon locates its 3D manufacturing processes at its various warehouses throughout the country, it no longer would have to take into consideration the cost of shipping products to its warehouses for resale — the products would be manufactured right at the warehouse.

So, will Amazon ever venture into the relatively new realm of 3D printing? I have no idea, but it’s fun to speculate.

Source:  http://www.ecommercetimes.com/story/76417.html