This page has been archived and commenting is disabled.

UBS On The Importance Of 3D Printing

Tyler Durden's picture


Over a year ago we discussed the "next Industrial Revolution" and where it might appear from. 3D printers were envisioned among Goldman's top disruptive themes earlier this year and as UBS notes, 3D printing – or additive manufacturing – has been catching investors’ imaginations in recent months. Some commentators have suggested the technology has the potential to literally transform the world economy and dismantle global supply chains; while UBS points out that, others have suggested the technology is hyped and has little promise beyond a few niche product areas in manufacturing. The truth, Andrew Cates believes, probably lies somewhere in between but he is nevertheless more sympathetic to those who champion the technology’s disruptive – even revolutionary - qualities.


Via UBS' Andrew Cates,

For those readers who are not yet aficionados on this technology we start with a brief explanation. Additive manufacturing (AM) techniques (a.k.a. 3D printing) create 3D objects directly from a computer model by depositing material where required and by building products up layer by layer using a range of different materials (e.g. polymers, ceramics, glass and even metals).

This stands in contrast to conventional subtractive manufacturing techniques which involve taking blocks of material, cutting them down into the right shape, and assembling them into more complex products. The technology is admittedly still in its infancy and it suffers from a range of limitations at present. However, we think the optimists who argue that this technology will be revolutionary have a strong case. As one author has quipped:

“This is not the third (industrial revolution), nor the second, but rather the first real revolution in how we make things since a pre-historic man picked up two rocks and started banging them against one another, trying to shape them into something useful” (Dr Alexander Elder)

The technology has not yet generated a major impact on the world economy. A recent report from UBS analysts, for example, noted that the AM market (USD 2.2 billion) amounted to just 0.02% of the global manufacturing sector. Still, as the analysts equally noted, the technology is starting to spread more broadly both at a sector-specific and at a country-specific level. A recent report from Wohlers Associates, for example, reveals that AM is now used in a number of different economic sectors with consumer products/electronics the leading industrial area. The motor vehicle and aerospace sectors are also keen users while the medical/dental profession has additionally established itself as a strong sector for AM over the last few years (see chart 1 below).

The technology is - at present - particularly advantageous in low-to-moderate volume markets (e.g. aerospace) that regularly operate without economies of scale.

At a country-specific level the data from that same report from Wohlers reveals that the US is the lead user by a large margin. Japan, Germany and China have the second, third and fourth largest installed bases, respectively, of systems worldwide (see chart 2 below).

There are a number of reasons why the technology has not yet had a bigger impact. Challenges include production speed, materials availability, precision and control. Issues concerning legal responsibility are also problematic. Still, as we explore below, incentives to overcome these challenges clearly exist because of the potential advantages that the technology affords. And matters at present may already be moving more rapidly than many of the pessimists might contend. The use of nanotechnology, for instance, could mean that plastics in 3D printing soon rival the strength of metals in more conventional manufacturing.

Meanwhile the printing of human kidneys, of houses, of hamburgers (and other food products) and even – in the distant future - of an aeroplane are being actively researched and in some of those cases (e.g. houses and hamburgers) even printed.

The reasons why the technology has so much potential are as follows:

It lowers energy intensity by saving energy, by eliminating production steps, by enabling the reuse of by-products by producing lighter products and by cutting the need for transportation. It is in these respects obviously environmentally-friendly as well.


AM techniques yield less waste. The US Department of Energy estimates that by building objects layer by layer instead of traditional machining processes that cut away material AM processes could reduce material needs and costs by up to 90%.


It heightens incentives to innovate by eliminating traditional design restrictions. It makes it possible, for example, to create items previously considered too intricate and accelerates final product design. The ability to improve performance and functionality – literally customizing products to meet individual customer needs – should open new markets and improve profitability.


It yields greater flexibility in the production process by enabling rapid response to markets and new production options outside of the manufacturing factory. Spare parts can be produced on demand, for example, reducing the need for inventory and complex supply chains.

In short the technology enriches the capital base and enhances the scope for an economy to achieve faster capital- and total factor productivity growth. Its disruptive qualities emerge from the ongoing fall in its relative costs and the increasingly broad reach of its potential. Arguably of most significance from the vantage point of potential global economic benefits the technology lowers the barriers to entry in manufacturing and allows almost anyone to become an entrepreneur.

As we have explored in more detailed research in recent weeks there are a large number of technologies that are rising to the surface of the world economy at present which offer a great deal of promise. AM in isolation would arguably not be so potent were it not for these other innovations that are acting alongside it. The marriage of nanotechnology and AM techniques is perhaps the bestillustration of this. But the increasingly connected world economy via the increasing use of mobile and cloud technology and the ease with which digital designs can now be transported around the planet are notably also helping to foster the take-up and deployment of AM techniques.

We have tentatively estimated that the efficient deployment of new technologies in the information and communications sector, in manufacturing (including AM) and in energy could lift the potential growth rate of the world economy by as much as 0.5 percentage points in the coming years. The winners from this potential transformation, however, are more likely to be those economies, sectors, companies and consumers that are active users of these new technologies and not necessarily its active producers.


- advertisements -

Comment viewing options

Select your preferred way to display the comments and click "Save settings" to activate your changes.
Thu, 10/31/2013 - 20:28 | 4110241 LetThemEatRand
LetThemEatRand's picture

This is what happens when reality ceases to matter.  It is also an example of what is wrong with supply side.  Let's say you can print a Kidney but no one has a job.  Cool for the few hundred people with kidney printers, I guess.

Thu, 10/31/2013 - 20:44 | 4110286 acetinker
acetinker's picture

Hey Rand, I'm actually glad to hear this topic discussed seriously on The Hedge.  I am in the subtractive biz, and for right now, that side of component manufacturing is still firmly in charge.  I do consider, however, that my job is quite literally to make useless chips out of perfectly good solid objects.

I've been watching this space, and so far, it is more a novelty than a practical application.  Maybe it's a wet dream, or maybe it will be as revolutionary as the transition of skilled mechanics controlling balky machines, to technicians programming slick, fast CNC's.

Time will tell.

Thu, 10/31/2013 - 20:47 | 4110291 DoChenRollingBearing
DoChenRollingBearing's picture

Don't worry LTER and acetinker!  They will make 3D Printing illegal when they can make decent (not plastic POS) guns...

Thu, 10/31/2013 - 20:56 | 4110306 LetThemEatRand
LetThemEatRand's picture

Legal for people with the money to afford it.  FEMA for the rest of us.

Thu, 10/31/2013 - 21:09 | 4110342 Harbanger
Harbanger's picture

"us"?  FEMA for you and all the other hopeful Obamabots, not so much for the rest.

Thu, 10/31/2013 - 21:10 | 4110349 LetThemEatRand
LetThemEatRand's picture

Preach on.

Thu, 10/31/2013 - 21:21 | 4110393 CH1
CH1's picture

3D printers are cheap and getting cheaper!

Thu, 10/31/2013 - 23:07 | 4110693 Dantzler
Dantzler's picture

Gotta throw this out there up-thread. CH1 I appreciate your contributions here.

Long time incognito member, but proud enough to post of a fellow WA state inventor who has reduced the cost of the input material.

Info here:


Thu, 10/31/2013 - 23:25 | 4110735 Trucker Glock
Trucker Glock's picture

Thanks for the article.

Fri, 11/01/2013 - 06:30 | 4111164 Acet
Acet's picture

Once in a while I discover some old gueezer who turns out to have a ton of life experience, an amazing pile of expertise and/or huge wisdom.

It's unbelievable how our societies usually waste these people.


That said the majority of the older people are just as lightweight, shallow and unimpressive as the majority of people in general.


Fri, 11/01/2013 - 12:03 | 4112020 Oracle 911
Oracle 911's picture

What about the 3D pen?

Thu, 10/31/2013 - 21:22 | 4110395 bubblemania
bubblemania's picture


Thu, 10/31/2013 - 22:35 | 4110601 Ranger4564
Ranger4564's picture

People, please think in a much bigger framework.  Many of you chain yourself to a job, believing that if you're free, you're floating in space ready to die. That's absurd.

Look, instead of looking at every human act as a personal choice, just for once look at it as a law of nature. Just for a few minutes, hours, days, try not to think in terms of individual choice but rather species level events. If you set aside the presumed motivators for a bit, you can possibly see the broader trajectory. What I mean is, it doesn't literally matter why someone invented the plow, the wheel, the cotton gin, the steam boat, for this particular mental exercise, it only matters that someone, anyone, bothered to go from a lesser technological position and chose to create a more advanced technological position. And I want you to also set aside what you believe were their motives, especially in terms of economic benefit or self interest. I am not denying it, I'm just saying focusing on that clouds one's vision and prevents awareness of the larger trajectory. So it doesn't matter that the merchant wanted a better way to transport goods, or that the farmer wanted a better way to plow, or that the miller wanted a better way to pick and refine cotton, or that people wanted a better way to transport large numbers of objects / people all for their own economic benefit / personal survival. It's understood and acknowledged.

When you set aside the conditions for a minute, you recognize that humanity has been on a perpetual trajectory of reducing Risk, increasing Productivity, and increasing Prosperity, it's an imperative. Given the technological situation as it was (until recently), there was an injunction imposed by society... work or die. You either participated in the reduction of risk, increase in productivity and prosperity, or you were a burden. And so, we developed the ethics / morality / social obligations - the work ethic and distaste for the less energetic. But these conditions are mutable, not fixed, and these are always in transition. So once the plow was invented, many people were displaced from farming, and ended up specializing in other interests, some of which the people here ridicule needlessly. So once the plow was replaced by the Combine, many more people were displaced from farming, and many ended up being day traders, the kind of people I ridicule needlessly. ;-)  Point is, every single technological tool we invented improved the conditions for survival and prosperity and freed more and more people to pursue other tasks. But because we didn't refine our do or die injunction, people found really stupid ways to justify their participation in productivity. And before anyone thinks they are deserving while others should be dead, I will remind all of you that very few here could invent their own lives, and very few here could actually create their own technological prosperity. Sure you might survive, but prosper, maybe not. Not everyone can invent a wheel, or a plow, or a steam engine. So humility is in order.

If we can acknowledge that technological progress has been generally reducing Risk and increasing prosperity, we can move to the idea that perhaps a technology exists or could be created that would fundamentally shift our social obligation to work or die... what happens when computers replace 10's of thousands of people in all sorts of areas of production... think of how much bread, and food in general is producted by technological automation. Think of it as the opportunity to redefine our social contract, instead of a threat to your prosperity. The fact is, we don't have to vegitate if we stop working 40 hours a week. We don't have to stop being intelligent or active simply because we don't act as scoundrels or obstacles to the efficiencies that are technologically and socially possible. We don't have to be accountants, insurance brokers, real estate brokers, bankers, traders, muddling middle men all of them. We don't need to be the squeaky wheel just to be lubed. The current social contract is so dead, it's a fucking tragedy. The current economic situation is the proof. A few people across the globe decided to be the muddling middle men in every transaction you engage in, and they're extracting almost all of the value from the transaction. This because their vision of prosperity is dated and flawed, and so are their ethics.  What if we didn't act as obstacles but instead acted as facilitators / enablers, to enhance productivity, so we could increase prosperity? That's the opportunity, not the risk.

We are on the precipice of a humongous change in civilization, if we take control of the situation... or we could continue to bicker about what role we have left in the now dead paradigm. Having free time, free from the obligation to work for livelihood, does not mean people become useless. The entire purpose of the enlightenment was to remind us that we have much more learning to do, much more to explore, much more to express. And with more time, less restrictions, think of what Copernicus / Galileo / Da Vinci / Michelangelo / etc could have achieved. If there wasn't the pressure from the powers that be to produce only acceptable results, then we might be talking about a very different set of ideas.  Point is, we could free ourselves from intellectual limitations and social obligations that are dated, if we acknowledged that it's time to redefine our social contract. If we all worked 10 or 15 hours a week to advance our technological world to ensure efficient production, we could enjoy the prosperity we've achieved.

So you're wondering where is all this prosperity I keep speaking of? It's the trillions of dollars the Oligarchs have been confiscating throughout history. If we take the prosperity they extract and use it to support civilization, we'd actually increase prosperity significantly for the majority of humanity.  At the same time, it would free you to pursue the intellectual and other personal pursuits you would choose to pursue. Now I will acknowledge that a lot of present day adults have not had a good education, have not evolved, so might not be able to find a way to occupy their time in fruitful activities. That is actually a result of forcing people to live with the work or die model, where we eliminate creativity, reinforce obedience, and require compliance. If we change the way we educate our children, we can improve their conditions to be able to lead more fulfilling lives.

So how does this tie into this technology? This technology will change the way we think of Matter, how we think of fabrication, production, the kinds of things we can fabricate, change maintenance, change everything. Literally, we are on the verge of so much opportunity, but you have to stop living in the past. With advancement in the implementation of this technology, roads can be continously repaired, rail tracks also, bridges could be built, aircraft could be assembled, buildings could be built that provide housing / research laboratories / facilities for exploration, whatever. The limit is your imagination. This technology will create a book instead of having it printed and shipped to you. It will eventually assembl food and new materials, new forms, new devices. It will recycle old objects. It will do everything, including make you a new set of clothes.

That is, if we cooperate and choose to continue to reduce risk, increase productivity, increase prosperity. If instead, we choose to be small minded and destroy this technology, out of fear of being displaced from work, then we're just killing people needlessly. Nothing says you can't make things by hand even now. Nothing will prevent you from doing so in the future.  it's just that 7 billion people will not be relying on someone to plow the field. The Combine will gather the food, the milling machines will mill the grain, the baking machines will bake. We will be there to monitor progress, not impede it. Work with me here.

Thu, 10/31/2013 - 22:57 | 4110670 Mike in GA
Mike in GA's picture

Think you could distill your utopian thesis down to say, 1 paragraph, maybe?  Other than that, it's got real promise.  Now exhale, put the bong down and get away from that ledge.  Work with me here.

Thu, 10/31/2013 - 23:20 | 4110719 ZeroRights
ZeroRights's picture

LOL- We'll said,

Fri, 11/01/2013 - 00:42 | 4110928 Ranger4564
Ranger4564's picture

I know I know. I agree actualy. Go read some of my other posts on ZH, you'll encounter various forms of the distilled version. I end up elaborating and belaboring because so many can't seem to piece it together if I summarize. Here.

We have the opportunity to utilize technology to provide for our human needs, to liberate people from meaningless labor, and to redefine our social contract, if we want to.


Fri, 11/01/2013 - 10:20 | 4111671 Jean Valjean
Jean Valjean's picture

You are actually on to something and I felt it was worth reading your rant.  That said, I have two tangents for you to persue after your next bong hit...

One.  The persuit of risk reduction is actually the bain of mankinds existence throughout history.  I'll admit, risk is reduced through the increase and application of technology, however, increasing and applying technology is a risky endevor.  It's a paradox.  Those that consider themselves in the risk reduction business; governments, bankers, insurance salesmen, day traders, are the very dirt in the gearbox.  As individuals, the inventors and technologists, are risk takers.

Two.  Another way to describe your above rant is a description of "God's Plan".  God want's us to trust him for our day to day survival and take risks to improve things.  When we are doing that, we are on the correct side of history, when we lose our faith, and begin to impede others in order to make a living, we are on the wrong side of history.

Fri, 11/01/2013 - 19:25 | 4113943 MeelionDollerBogus
MeelionDollerBogus's picture

Or, we could film the most epic 3 hour feature film version of Ow my Ballz ever seen by mankind.
FEATURING star cameo appearance by Chuck Norris. Or was that Steven Seagal as featured in Cockpuncher(tm)?

Fri, 11/01/2013 - 20:48 | 4114157 acetinker
acetinker's picture

Is this your whole sticking point, Rand?  Somebody says Obamabot and you become sanctimonious?  Maybe you shoulda read The Fountainhead, before skimming the cliff's notes version of Atlas Shrugged.  


Thu, 10/31/2013 - 21:41 | 4110462 Freddie
Freddie's picture

Can we 3-D print a new president, Congress and Supreme Court?  I am sick of being a balance sheet liability for USSA Inc. - a red shield corporation.

Thu, 10/31/2013 - 22:30 | 4110591 Caviar Emptor
Caviar Emptor's picture

Here's the conundrum : someone will print a 3-D printer that will in turn print more which each print more....until nearly everyone has one.

Thu, 10/31/2013 - 23:23 | 4110615 The Big Ching-aso
The Big Ching-aso's picture

I think it has real-world application for the lost wax method of casting metal parts and such.   But in the end of the day it's a modeler for hard metal cutting machines to still do good old latheing and milling holding tolerances.

For plastic parts yeah sure I can see this working out ok.   But it's not gonna replace a Bridgeport or Hardinge.   Ever.   Unless someone devises a $200 shoe-box-mass-market-uber-laser 3D printer that runs off 110v and is also able to safely spue and shape out molten metals in the process. 

In the time being I'd rather have a mini EDM anyday though if one wanted to play inkjet printer on steroids.   

Thu, 10/31/2013 - 23:32 | 4110738 acetinker
acetinker's picture

Yep, that's exactly the things I heard a long time ago.  "A monkey can run a NC machine", etc.  I kinda doubt a monkey could, or even want, to run a machine, but that's not the point, is it?

Those hard line manual machinists became machine tenders, and eventually became obsolete.  They didn't make the transition.  They should have been asking "how do you program these things?", but they chose to remain willfully ignorant.

Maybe it's just me, but new ideas are not to be feared.  You're right that 3D printing is crude just now, but so was NC when we had to load Friden flex-o-writer cards in an optical sorter/reader in just the right order.

Yeah, those systems fucked up a bunch of perfectly good material.  The cards would jam, and most of the programs back then were written in relative positioning, so the machine would just keep repeating the same move, relative to the last position, to the point of machine/tool meltdown.

3D priniting may, or may not be revolutionary.  The real question is; Will YOU make the transition?

Fri, 11/01/2013 - 01:12 | 4110963 The Big Ching-aso
The Big Ching-aso's picture

Well to me whatever 3D evolves into it's still basically a form of mini-NC machine.   And if you start talking parts size relevance it's still gonna have to be as big and rigid as a Bridgeport to produce a big and rigid part.    Think that 7 ft 3D sucker will sell like hotcakes at your friendly Costco?     You also know as well as I that parts setup can be a real bitch especially if you're adding for example a threaded new hole here or there.     So what are they thinking here?  It also sets up a jig for you automatically too?  How about a hand that comes out and unzips?

Look I think this could be niche revolutionary for not highly stressed small part designer/producers.  Plastic parts yeah out the wazoo I can see that coming, along with lost-wax things.      Everything else high stressed it's still gonna require some hard-ass alloy that can be chipped out with even harder-ass tooling.   Unless of course they come up with some alien-level nano epoxy like substance that hardens to Rockwell 60 while still maintaining tolerance.      I fathom though that where this will make some people richer are machining or lost-wax shops that can take the 3D produced model and replicate ala CNC machine.    So these shops take your plasticky 3D part and turn it into whatever their CNC mill, lathe or lost-wax can transform into industrial grade tough parts.   Everybody wins but it still takes money to get there.       Like you said though, it's probably not a bad thing to learn about if you're a typical NC machinist today.

Bottomline I equate this technology to what we would like to see happen some day through our whimsical imagination looking at a typical inkjet printer but unfortunately the technology today to get 'er done is still a long ways off.    I'm thinking sorta close to Star Trek days maybe.    But today this still ain't the equivalent revolutionary advent of the toaster oven IMO.  It's still too niche-ish. 




Fri, 11/01/2013 - 13:32 | 4112393 Oracle 911
Oracle 911's picture

Well there is a technology which  combine 3D printing and electrolysis, the (Czech) inventor died before he could commercializate it (it was about 10 years ago). So it allows make really complicated parts of machine from hard alloy or from alloys with low melting point useful to lost-wax method.

Fri, 11/01/2013 - 19:30 | 4113954 MeelionDollerBogus
MeelionDollerBogus's picture

"Unless of course they come up with some alien-level nano epoxy"
Like what's naturally produced from zebra mussels?

" It's still too niche-ish. "
As long as it's not too Neitzche.

Fri, 11/01/2013 - 21:49 | 4114286 acetinker
acetinker's picture

Man, where is Michael, aka DeweyCheatumHowe, when you need him?  ...big and rigid as a Bridgeport... tells me a lot.  When it comes to machining, you don't know your ass from a hole in the ground.

I was just qualifying blanks on my Bridgeport knockoff this afternoon, but the Haas they go to next is an absolute monster in MRR (metal removal rate) in comparison.

So, you think I'm a asshole?  Naw, ching.  I'd love to show you how this shit actually works.

I don't care much for your condescension, either.  "Not a bad thing to learn if you're a typical NC machinist"?  What is "typical" exactly?

If you call my shop to get a quote, you get me.  If you call and ask for A/P, A/R, you get me.  If you call and ask for the person in charge of..., you get me.  If you need a piece of machinery to do a specific task, you get me.

When the bathroom gets disgusting and you call janitorial, you get me.  If something is broken, or not working properly, you get me.

But the most important thing is and will continue to be, when something mechatronic is fucked-up, you call, and you get, me.

So, your flippant dismissal of 3D printing is not only short-sighted, but indicative of your total lack of regard for the people who make your world work.

Fri, 11/01/2013 - 09:24 | 4111453 Bagbalm
Bagbalm's picture

The management had a lot of say in who went to NC machines. I trained myself on programing them from the manuals. So when I asked to move over the owner gave me a part print and asked me to write a sample program.

He rejected my program and refused to try running it because it used shortcuts such as a pecking command to drill a deep hole. He and the three men he'd trained called out every move making the program about three times as long as necessary, because as he said "I can't see what it is going to do that way." In other words he was too stupid to do it right.

I went to a different company where the owner wasn't afraid to hire anyone smarter than him, and the old boss had a mental breakdown and lost his business.

If you think you just decide to advance yourself in most of these businesses you are discounting politics and stupidity.

Fri, 11/01/2013 - 21:54 | 4114301 acetinker
acetinker's picture

I know.  So, instead of asking of asking someone else to employ your self-evident ass, show the whole world how brilliant you are.  Got ballz?

Thu, 10/31/2013 - 23:42 | 4110785 Desert Cat
Desert Cat's picture

I keep envisioning these things as sand casting prototype generators.

Fri, 11/01/2013 - 19:33 | 4113965 MeelionDollerBogus
MeelionDollerBogus's picture

Well if we're gonna carry it that far why not reprogram living cells that build things while reproducing?
Sure, maybe some things won't be "durable" like steel girders but who knows? Living things grow bone & some of those living things are very durable.
Hit a moose with a car. Tell me who's hurt more in the end, moose or car.

Thu, 10/31/2013 - 22:39 | 4110621 acetinker
acetinker's picture

Money to afford it... Dude, I am in more debt than I've ever been in my life, and I did it so I could support ignorant and ungrateful sumbitches like you.  No more.

I will do what pleases me, the rest of you can fuck off.



Thu, 10/31/2013 - 20:59 | 4110317 Carl Popper
Carl Popper's picture

You are legally allowed to build your own weapons including ar 15 rifles. No license or permission required. You do not even have to put a serial number on it. Many people do it and have build parties in the USA. Check out Aries Armor

Thu, 10/31/2013 - 21:44 | 4110472 Running On Bing...
Running On Bingo Fuel's picture

I mentioned that a while ago. I said it would make a good xmas gift for your kid to buy a kit from cheaperthandirt and spend some time teaching them gunsmithing.

Oh boy did everyone get bent. The ankle biters came out in force.


Fri, 11/01/2013 - 10:59 | 4111774 Thisson
Thisson's picture

All Ares Armor Build Party Slots have been closed per cease and desist letter from the BATFE.

Thu, 10/31/2013 - 21:19 | 4110384 CH1
CH1's picture

They will make 3D Printing illegal

Shit, what isn't illegal these days?

I am sure they'll try, but they certainly haven't done especially well outlawing pot. :)

Thu, 10/31/2013 - 21:32 | 4110428 thisandthat
thisandthat's picture

Since when you need a 3d printer to make guns?

Fri, 11/01/2013 - 00:19 | 4110886 Nassim
Nassim's picture

I never quite understood why it was such a big deal to make a plastic gun that can fire - badly - once. People have been making proper guns by hand for centuries.

Fri, 11/01/2013 - 09:07 | 4111394 exi1ed0ne
exi1ed0ne's picture

Think metal detectors, real guns that are disguised as toys, etc.  Plus the tech to print them in plastic is far more accessible with no special kit needed.  You can build all the parts out of common materials.

Thu, 10/31/2013 - 23:09 | 4110701 twh99
twh99's picture

Defining today's manufacturing technology is an overly simplistic breakdown of today's technology. 

I can think of at least three things off the top of my head that do not fit the author's definition: welding, molding and metal stamping.

3D printing is a cool technology, but like all the others it has its place.  But it will not replace the other technologies that currently exist.

I remember years ago when all the rage was CAM (computer aided manufacturing).  You had engineers swearing that soon everything would be made this way and all other manufacturing methods would be obsolete.  Not true! Although it does have its place it only is one piece of the production puzzle.

The same for 3D printing.  It will become a tool to be used alongside all the other tools.

Fri, 11/01/2013 - 19:34 | 4113969 MeelionDollerBogus
MeelionDollerBogus's picture

I'm not sure I can remember when is the last time I touched a thing not made with CAD/CAM.
Maybe... the steel cutlery in the kitchen? Possibly even a wood chair but I'm not sure I should bet on that.
CARPET. There. I had to really sit & think of it but carpet, bed sheets, pillow cases. There. i did it.

Fri, 11/01/2013 - 00:45 | 4110938 disabledvet
disabledvet's picture

interesting post and thanx for it. the revolution of course is in the materials space...and yeah, it's blown away everybody this year (just look at the materials space en toto.) "very not bad" as the Chinese would say. was Japan: got kind of a "Samurai" thing going with the roof line it would appear. in any case...lose a million bucks...get bought for half a billion. sounds like a good deal. i imagine dupont is still pretty angry oh these many years though. everyone laughed at the all electric BMW i-3 but that thing was made totally out of carbon composite. very light weight although it sure got a lot of bad press when they launched the vehicle. "not serious" did stand out as a comment. Nissan has a five year head start on everybody right now insofar as the entry level market is concerned.

Thu, 10/31/2013 - 20:46 | 4110288 ACP
ACP's picture

There's an easy solution to that, which is crowdfunding.

Anyway, the naysayers remind me of IBM when they thought they had Bill Gates by the balls by buying the software for their hardware. The real money was always in the software. There's going to be a little known facet of this technology that will be the real moneymaker.

Thu, 10/31/2013 - 20:49 | 4110295 LetThemEatRand
LetThemEatRand's picture

So the iPhone is going to make me rich and not have to work as much, then?

Thu, 10/31/2013 - 20:56 | 4110305 Carl Popper
Carl Popper's picture

You? Proly not. Lol. It would require hard work and a willingness to risk.

Me? Maybe!

Thu, 10/31/2013 - 20:57 | 4110308 LetThemEatRand
LetThemEatRand's picture

So how is your small business doing?

Thu, 10/31/2013 - 21:02 | 4110323 Carl Popper
Carl Popper's picture

Hanging in there by a thread of course

Thu, 10/31/2013 - 21:04 | 4110328 LetThemEatRand
LetThemEatRand's picture


Thu, 10/31/2013 - 21:01 | 4110322 acetinker
acetinker's picture

No, Rand.  Just as CNC's have made many of my cohorts from 3 decades ago obsolete, so too will some new technology make ALL humans who refuse to adapt, obsolete.  You may think that harsh.  You may think me cold, cruel  even.

I am far from an elitist, but I recognize that civilization, going forward, needs far less humans.

Thu, 10/31/2013 - 21:07 | 4110338 LetThemEatRand
LetThemEatRand's picture

Hey, Bill.  Windows 8 sucks, by the by.

Thu, 10/31/2013 - 21:17 | 4110375 acetinker
acetinker's picture

Yes, it absolutely does.  Haven't you realized my M.O. yet?  W9 will be the cat's ass, but w10 (or whatever we decide to call it) will suck also.  It's called marketing, Rand.  We modeled it after the American political circus.  Did you think we were stupid?

Thu, 10/31/2013 - 21:18 | 4110382 economics9698
economics9698's picture

Windows 7 works just fine. 

Thu, 10/31/2013 - 21:45 | 4110475 swmnguy
swmnguy's picture

If you use Windows, only use the odd-numbered releases.

Thu, 10/31/2013 - 22:03 | 4110509 Trucker Glock
Trucker Glock's picture

Is XP odd or even?

Thu, 10/31/2013 - 22:12 | 4110541 ACP
ACP's picture


Windows 8 = shit

Windows 7 = good

Windows Vista = shit

Windows XP = good

Windows 98/2000 (transition from basic to network - NT - systems) = shit

Windows 95 = good


The Gateses have been very consistent.

Fri, 11/01/2013 - 06:58 | 4111178 Acet
Acet's picture

Oh, I dunno: I thought Windows 3.1 wasn't exactly all that great a step up from MS-DOS.

Fri, 11/01/2013 - 19:36 | 4113972 MeelionDollerBogus
MeelionDollerBogus's picture

I found 98SE to be far more stable than XP.
Now I'm done with it.
I'm forced with Win7 for work. It sucks. Crashes lots of things. Very slow memory hog.
At home I use Ubuntu 12.04 from Linux Mint 13 / Maya. Works like a dream.

Thu, 10/31/2013 - 22:23 | 4110564 acetinker
acetinker's picture


Thu, 10/31/2013 - 22:19 | 4110555 Freddie
Freddie's picture

Yeah - works great for the N*A sending them your life history every second. 

Thu, 10/31/2013 - 21:21 | 4110377 economics9698
economics9698's picture

"I am far from an elitist, but I recognize that civilization, going forward, needs far less humans."

 True so instead of the elites killing them by the billions why not pay people to not reproduce.  Far more humane than war or genocide.  Just fucking bugs me one group of people thinks it has the right to decide who lives and who dies. 


Pay them off the old fashion way for god’s sake.

Thu, 10/31/2013 - 21:29 | 4110420 LetThemEatRand
LetThemEatRand's picture

Aren't you teacher for the State?

Fri, 11/01/2013 - 02:13 | 4111011 economics9698
economics9698's picture

Fuck off.

Thu, 10/31/2013 - 21:38 | 4110451 acetinker
acetinker's picture

At this point in time, economics9698, it is still more profitable for the true "elitists" to kill than to advance real solutions.  When we cross that rubicon, there will be no need to "pay them not to reproduce".  They'll simply starve.  Sad that.

Thu, 10/31/2013 - 22:29 | 4110585 FeralSerf
FeralSerf's picture

That's what happens on islands where sheep are introduced and there are no predators. First the sheep do well. Eventually they eat everything and then starve.

Humans are their own chief predator, which is the reason that killing is the (evolutionary) preferred method of population control for them. And they do it well.

Thu, 10/31/2013 - 23:00 | 4110679 Mike in GA
Mike in GA's picture

They?  What does that make you?

Fri, 11/01/2013 - 00:17 | 4110882 acetinker
acetinker's picture

There's at least a grain or two of truth in that, Feral.  Then again, how do we account for the goats?  The goat is essential to the shepherd, but is universally misunderstood.  The shepherd needs the goat.  It is the goat who doesn't freak out when lightning strikes, or whatever.  Goat don't give a shit, come what may.  Sheep look to the goat for guidance.  Goat doesn't react irrationally, and shepherd knows this.

Shepherd also knows that sheep don't actually need him, but shepherd is dead without sheep.  Goat don't give a fuck, one way or another.  He don't want to eat sheep.  He don't want to eat shepherd, nor the heretofore unmentioned dogs.

The only animal in this scenario who is actually free, is the much maligned goat.  And he don't give a fuck about any of it.

Fri, 11/01/2013 - 13:12 | 4112306 FeralSerf
FeralSerf's picture

Goats are what happens when sheep get smarter. Have you ever seen Judas goats at the slaughterhouse? How about Judas humans?

Humans might be what happens when pigs fuck apes.

Fri, 11/01/2013 - 20:09 | 4114057 acetinker
acetinker's picture

Judas?  Goats?  You've done gone and flown over my head, Feral.  Being a goat, I know a thing or two about goats. Goats don't sell out nobody, not even the stupid sheep.  

Judas humans though, that's the status quo.


Fri, 11/01/2013 - 09:43 | 4111520 ToNYC
ToNYC's picture

Civilization needs less stupid humans, nor can it get enough intelligent ones.

I am far from an elitist, but I recognize that civilization, going forward, needs far less humans.

Fri, 11/01/2013 - 19:36 | 4113974 MeelionDollerBogus
MeelionDollerBogus's picture

Stuns me. In my life I've never paid more for software than for hardware & can't see how that's ever going to change.

Fri, 11/01/2013 - 00:25 | 4110898 takeaction
takeaction's picture

In my Industry....the Car Audio Industry....I have to keep over 1000 different dash kits in stock.  And new ones come out each year.  These pieces of plastic take up over 1000 square foot of our building (And Growing).  Here is a link so you can see some of these if you don't know what I am talking about....

And some of them are over $200.  Can you imagine eliminating all of this inventory at every car audio shop worldwide... and 3D printing these on demand.  OMG.  This would be a dream.

Multi Billion dollar idea.....who will run with this??



Fri, 11/01/2013 - 19:37 | 4113979 MeelionDollerBogus
MeelionDollerBogus's picture

I suppose it's up to you to make sure if you're printing a kidney for someone who needs it you ask for the right price in whatever tangible assets you want most, or find another customer.

Thu, 10/31/2013 - 20:27 | 4110245 FieldingMellish
FieldingMellish's picture

LOONNNNGGGGGG way to go yet.... unless you want some cheapass plastic dohickey that is near to useless anyhow.

Thu, 10/31/2013 - 20:38 | 4110268 Overfed
Overfed's picture

"Them thar newfangled televisions are just a passing fad."

"Them thar newfangled computer thingies are just a passing fad."

Thu, 10/31/2013 - 20:39 | 4110270 Overfed
Overfed's picture

"Them thar newfangled televisions are just a passing fad."

"Them thar newfangled computer thingies are just a passing fad."

Just wait until the 3-D printers that work with sintered metal hit the wider market.

Thu, 10/31/2013 - 21:00 | 4110320 HulkHogan
HulkHogan's picture

3D printers have been around since the 70s and they are no better today then they were back then. I was at a jewelry show last year and watched the new models at work, and they still can't print exact copies without constant mess ups. And everything is still made of plastic. We have a LLLLLOOOOONNNNGGGG way until these things change the world. Short DDD.

Thu, 10/31/2013 - 21:12 | 4110356 infinity8
infinity8's picture

Those are the shitty ones that will be sold at Hobby Lobby.

Thu, 10/31/2013 - 21:42 | 4110467 thisandthat
thisandthat's picture

That must be why aerospace uses it for critical parts, such as turbine blades, etc...

Thu, 10/31/2013 - 21:59 | 4110505 Kirk2NCC1701
Kirk2NCC1701's picture

LOL. Some may not have understood your sarcasm. :-)

Thu, 10/31/2013 - 22:07 | 4110523 thisandthat
thisandthat's picture

forgot to install the sarcasm font...

Thu, 10/31/2013 - 22:10 | 4110538 acetinker
acetinker's picture

MODELS of turbine blades, thisandthat.  If you have evidence to the contrary, I'd want to know.  My limited future depends on it.

Thu, 10/31/2013 - 23:19 | 4110718 thisandthat
thisandthat's picture

Maybe it's wikipedia just being wikipedia, as I found no other source for it:

The EBM process was recently developed for manufacturing parts in gamma titanium aluminide, and is currently used by Avio S.p.A. for the production of turbine blades in ?-TiAl for aero engines.

But the technology is definitely there:

General Electric has recently announced that gamma TiAl low pressure turbine blades will be used on its GEnx engine, which powers the Boeing 787 and Boeing 747-8 aircraft. This is the first large-scale use of this material on a commercial jet engine. The TiAl LPT blades are cast by Precision Castparts Corp. and Avio s.p.a..

As an example, the alloy Ti-48Al-2Cr-2Nb is a certified alloy by GE and tested for use in commercial turbofan engines(5).

The EBM system is an excellent way to manufacture different TiAl parts. As the application is manufactured in a near net shape it is possible to produce complex shapes of TiAl materials For example turbine blades for aircraft engines can be produced by EBM, something that is almost impossible with other techniques. When producing in near net shape it is possible to keep the waste from the production to a minimum. Producing in the Arcam EBM system there is a short way from drawing to the actual product is produced, something that will save both time and money as intermediate stages can be left out.

Fri, 11/01/2013 - 00:35 | 4110920 acetinker
acetinker's picture

Thank you.  Still sounds like pre IPO ad-hype though.  Don't think I don't appreciate the effort though, I do.

Thu, 10/31/2013 - 23:36 | 4110767 Kiwi Pete
Fri, 11/01/2013 - 00:47 | 4110939 acetinker
acetinker's picture

That's the injector, Pete. It's necessarily at the cold end of the turbine.  How long did it run for?  10 seconds?  You coulda damn near done that with refrigerated candle wax.

Don't get me wrong, I want 3D printing to succeed, but this ain't it.

Thu, 10/31/2013 - 22:47 | 4110643 laomei
laomei's picture

There are already printers that do sintered metal.  However, the same problems remain.

The layer-by-layer approach results in very weak bonds between layers.  Poor finish as well, which must be processed to acheive the pretty images that people use to show off.  Processing results in a loss of precision, and takes time.  With the end result not being durable.  It's basically a model.  Many items are also made of multiple materials.  It's fine for an investment mold, or a prototype, or a one-off non-durable piece that is needed as a quick fix.  Thoughts of a sintering printer in say, space, aint gonna work though.  No gravity + metal powder? Good luck with that!  Having a printer outside the ship is even worse as it creates space debris.  Ain't gonna happen there, no way no how.


The materials are also not "simple".  Most have to be prepared specifically for them to be of any actual use.  There's also the TIME factor.  mold injection is fast, cheap and easy, printing... not so much and the end result requires processing and ain't very good.  It's also all rather energy intense when you start getting into lasers, for an inferior end product that takes longer.  Upscaling also ain't easy, and there's more to break, more to maintain.


Here's a much cooler idea.  Ditch the crazy materials and use wax.  Have an "all-in-one" device which prints the wax model encases it and pours a molten substance.  Now you have a visual prior to casting, and you have a one-off easy prototype that CAN be used directly as it has stronger bonds, as well as an invetment casting for future molds.  Still not going to be has high quality as CNC though.

Thu, 10/31/2013 - 23:55 | 4110828 thisandthat
thisandthat's picture

And yes, nothing stops you from printing moulds, rather than end products, so cost/quality, material limitations aren't all that limiting...

Fri, 11/01/2013 - 19:38 | 4113983 MeelionDollerBogus
MeelionDollerBogus's picture

Sintering with plastic beads is how riot-shields, plastic police batons & football helmets are made.
They seem pretty durable.

Thu, 10/31/2013 - 20:30 | 4110252 infinity8
infinity8's picture

IMO, the materials limitations is the biggest thing holding this back from being beyond huge. They figure that out and it is a manufacturing revolution. Already huge (positive, cost-saving) impact on prototyping. Ditto for nano. That marriage is made in heaven.

Fri, 11/01/2013 - 02:40 | 4111027 Seer
Seer's picture

"the materials limitations is the biggest thing holding this back from being beyond huge"

Energy & materials...  no big deal...

Technology is a PROCESS.  Without energy and materials it's just a recipe in a cookbook.

"Faster" and "complex" necessitates more energy in order to get that leg up on entopic forces (which beg to differ with our notions that complex things can be formed in very short periods of time [well, with repeat performance, lots of them]).

Fri, 11/01/2013 - 19:40 | 4113985 MeelionDollerBogus
MeelionDollerBogus's picture

I'd like to know where you think the giant energy drain is going to come from.
These printers move DUST. They use laser heat on single POINTS in a layer.
It's miniscule.

Thu, 10/31/2013 - 20:35 | 4110261 Bangin7GramRocks
Bangin7GramRocks's picture

It will be transformative when someone invents and has the balls to sell a 3d printer that can be loaded with cheap material. Expensive, proprietary material makes it just a hobbyist toy. It's like cell phones, when the talk time costs dropped below .50c per minute, usage exploded. Same will happen with 3d printing.

Thu, 10/31/2013 - 20:44 | 4110285 infinity8
infinity8's picture

It's niche, now. The available materials are "cheap", property-wise (mechanical, thermal, etc.). They figure out how to make it work with the good stuff, now we're talkin'.

Thu, 10/31/2013 - 22:25 | 4110569 Freddie
Freddie's picture

Elon Musk will figure it out. He is a genius and he knows everything.

Thu, 10/31/2013 - 23:00 | 4110675 infinity8
infinity8's picture

Whatever, Fred. It's gonna get figured out.

Get used to it.

Fri, 11/01/2013 - 00:11 | 4110866 thisandthat
thisandthat's picture

I'd venture he was being sarcastic

Fri, 11/01/2013 - 02:43 | 4111028 Seer
Seer's picture

"The available materials are "cheap""

Are we talking about for the manufacture of the printer itself?  Fine, but what about all the things it's supposed to be able to create?

And, what about the required energy to drive whatever processes of all that is capable of being created?

Fri, 11/01/2013 - 19:41 | 4113989 MeelionDollerBogus
Thu, 10/31/2013 - 20:40 | 4110272 Landrew
Landrew's picture

I have used it first hand, it's crap. Slow isn't the word for it,  imprecise isn't the word for it. You wish you hadn't wasted the time and sent it to the machine shop or made it yourself no matter what it is. Atomic layer deposition now that's a work of art. 

Thu, 10/31/2013 - 20:55 | 4110302 NoDebt
NoDebt's picture

I have a good friend who used to work for 3D Systems.  Agreed, it's crap compared to more traditional technologies in a lot of ways, but it's early.  CNC machining wasn't so great when it first came out, now it's pretty good.  

AK47s didn't become the gold standard of revolutionaries around the world because they were the highest quality guns every designed.  While parts quality always matters, don't underestimate the genius of a good design to accomplish some pretty impressive things with some pretty mediocre parts.

Thu, 10/31/2013 - 20:41 | 4110274 duo
duo's picture

We supply some key components to some of the 3D printing companies.  The 3D printing business is patent troll heaven.  The clusterfuck that our patent system has become will insure that there is no dominant player or technology in this field, unless Obama choses a winner.

Thu, 10/31/2013 - 22:10 | 4110536 Teddy Tenpole
Teddy Tenpole's picture



you need to brush up on your fascisim there duo

Thu, 10/31/2013 - 20:44 | 4110282 HUGE_Gamma
HUGE_Gamma's picture

DDD to $100!!

actually, I'm suprised by this article that is -dare I say "bullish" on an industry other than PM

Thu, 10/31/2013 - 21:23 | 4110401 CH1
CH1's picture

Yeah, how DARE Tyler laud anything but PMs!

Thu, 10/31/2013 - 23:39 | 4110776 dark pools of soros
dark pools of soros's picture

this is STACKER county!!!

Thu, 10/31/2013 - 20:47 | 4110287 NoDebt
NoDebt's picture

Another bonus to this technology- it scares the crap out of repressive governments. For that reason alone it's worth putting the pedal to the metal to develop and improve as quickly as possible.

Fri, 11/01/2013 - 02:45 | 4111029 Seer
Seer's picture

"it scares the crap out of repressive governments"

How so?

BTW- aren't all governments "repressive?"

Thu, 10/31/2013 - 20:47 | 4110290 Herkimer Jerkimer
Herkimer Jerkimer's picture





It's like the dtp industry when it moved from setting type by hand in the 80's to the first computer font print out. (I'm not talking about macs, but the giant photoprinters that just squirted out plain text in 12 14 16 or 18 helvetica or times.) It was crude, it was slow, and it still needed hand paste up, but it was not only faster, but it was a different way of doing things that you used to do and we never went back.

3D's going to swamp everything in 10-15 years. Hardware stores will lose a huge chunk of their business. So will small manufacturers.

You think I'll pay 300 bucks for that little plastic car part for my tail light?

Add in Google driverless cars and there goes every driving job out there in 10-15 years. No more taxi, delivery, fedex, postie, jobs. Then planes.


We're toast.


What are we going to do with the permanently unemployed underclass of 15-30% in the next 30 years?


I know what China will do.





Thu, 10/31/2013 - 20:53 | 4110300 Carl Popper
Carl Popper's picture

This is an awesome look at what will happen to surplus labor. Two very divergent paths. Dystopia or utopia.

Thu, 10/31/2013 - 22:47 | 4110644 WOAR
WOAR's picture

That has been the best read I've had in a long, long time.

A long time.

Fri, 11/01/2013 - 04:27 | 4111099 Kiwi Pete
Kiwi Pete's picture

Excelent link thanks Carl.

Fri, 11/01/2013 - 15:27 | 4112943 Citxmech
Citxmech's picture

Thanks.  That was easily the most thought-provoking piece I've read this year.  Still trying to digest both of those two very different visions of our possible future. . . 


Thu, 10/31/2013 - 20:57 | 4110307 SpykerSpeed
SpykerSpeed's picture

We're not toast.  Those people will find jobs doing other manual labor, like working in solar panel factories, building batteries, building 10,000 square foot homes, etc.

The Federal Government just has to collapse first so the regulations and rules end.  Then the market will be liberated.  Bitcoin and Gold will help, but the dollar is killing itself.  It's just a waiting game.

Thu, 10/31/2013 - 21:06 | 4110337 Carl Popper
Carl Popper's picture

A maker society may not necesarily need much money. 18th century america was an old fashhioned maker society. I am hopeful for a more comfortable modern version. What does surplus labor do? Build stuff it needs of course. Why work for others if you dont have to?

Thu, 10/31/2013 - 21:25 | 4110407 duo
duo's picture

surplus labor watches TV, eats McDonalds, surfs Facebook, and reproduces on the government dime.

Fri, 11/01/2013 - 19:41 | 4113994 MeelionDollerBogus
MeelionDollerBogus's picture

when gov't fails that last condition will too.

Fri, 11/01/2013 - 02:50 | 4111031 Seer
Seer's picture

That 18th century America also had LOTS of readily exploitable Natural resources.  When everyone's rushing for "free" stuff (just have to push a few injuns away) all is good, pretty much like today when everything's "free."

Thu, 10/31/2013 - 21:02 | 4110324 infinity8
infinity8's picture

I like yur comment HJ. How many 100's of 1000's of jobs were lost in the last 30 years in advertising, publishing, design, print, and on and on and on? Most people, regardless of age, don't appreciate how many Humans actually had to Do something daily (for a decent living) to bring them their media.

Fri, 11/01/2013 - 18:25 | 4113719 MeelionDollerBogus
MeelionDollerBogus's picture

WTF. They still are.

Maybe 1 human can make a lot more than in the past 30 years because of computers but they still are.

Algorithms don't design "ads that sell". Even if they can one day design ads that kinda sorta work as an image, rather than being incomprehensible, would they have APPEAL ? It takes a human to design a thing for emotional appeal & commercial value and no algorithm can accurately do that. It takes a human.

Thu, 10/31/2013 - 21:24 | 4110408 CH1
CH1's picture

We're toast.

Just keep adapting, dude. It's the way of life.

Thu, 10/31/2013 - 22:03 | 4110510 Kirk2NCC1701
Kirk2NCC1701's picture

The real money will be made on Licensed Designs and on the Consumables.

HP Printer Group makes its fortune on INK, not printers.

Thu, 10/31/2013 - 23:03 | 4110684 laomei
laomei's picture

Yep, the consumables will be huge. When/if the weaknesses are overcome, economies of scale will kick in and the materials required will be very specific.  Connected with the devices themselves, it just gets kinda funny to think about.  "Licensed Designs" though, that's pretty funny.  If printers become common, 3d scanners will as well.  If I can scan it, I can copy it, and there's no real way to protect that.  Death of IP is a very real threat, which is kind of amusing.  This of course is assuming that all the problems are overcome.

Fri, 11/01/2013 - 02:54 | 4111033 Seer
Seer's picture

"economies of scale will kick in and the materials required will be very specific."

That's pretty vague, the "specific" part.

As someone who promotes the notion of "economies of scale in reverse," I only see everything scaling back, all stemming from the fact that physical resource are becoming increasingly more energy intense to harvest/mine.

Fri, 11/01/2013 - 04:01 | 4111078 thisandthat
thisandthat's picture

An industrial breakthrough will happen when titanium (one of the most common metals on the planet) becomes cheap to refine; remember that aluminium used to be considered a precious metal (hence why it's at the apex of DC's obelisk). I suspect by then CF will be dropped from many applications it's cutting edge nowadays (labour intensiveness).

Fri, 11/01/2013 - 18:18 | 4113673 MeelionDollerBogus
MeelionDollerBogus's picture

I welcome death of IP as a solution, not a problem.
Copyright is information terrorism

Thu, 10/31/2013 - 22:35 | 4110603 FeralSerf
FeralSerf's picture

There needs to be a breakthrough energy technology to power all that junk (and the rest of society) if it is to be successful.

Fri, 11/01/2013 - 03:01 | 4111035 Seer
Seer's picture

No!  It all happens with magic! </sarc>

This brings up all kinds of horrors, much like the notion of flying cars.  Fuck, people can't drive in TWO dimensions.  As it is now I don't worry about being in a car crash when I sleep at night (my house sets quite a ways off the road and I'm not on a corner).  The thought of mechanical or human error with thousands of flying gas bombs going overhead...

Just what the heck is my neighbor going to be making with his/her 3-D printer?  And if the resultant "product" fails?  More worrisome would be the energy requirements- how many amps are going to have to be delivered to folks such that they can "make anything?"  Yes, you too can live next door to an industrial nightmare!

Fri, 11/01/2013 - 18:18 | 4113675 MeelionDollerBogus
MeelionDollerBogus's picture

not much. It's hardly heavy-duty motors & super-high-energy lasers here. I bet it uses the combined power equivalent of a toaster running at the same time as a VCR.

Fri, 11/01/2013 - 18:18 | 4113682 MeelionDollerBogus
MeelionDollerBogus's picture

Pretty sure it takes less energy than current methods if you count for the volatile market swings that induce massive over-production of inventory that maybe never gets sold.

Thu, 10/31/2013 - 23:03 | 4110671 andrewp111
andrewp111's picture

You will be able to print a tail light cover that looks good enough to pass State inspection, but you won't be able to print the bulb. Don't get carried away here. 3D printing is great for intricately shaped, but simple, plastic parts. Great for purely mechanical components that don't have to take too much stress. It is not good for anything that requires a truly complex manufacturing process (like any electronic component), any precision optical component, or any metal part that needs to take high stress. It will make repairing items with dumb, but intricate, plastic parts easy. It is not a Star Trek replicator.

It would be interesting to see what this does to the cost of Body Shop work since cars are almost all plastic these days, although most of their cost seems to be labor, not parts.

Fri, 11/01/2013 - 18:22 | 4113695 MeelionDollerBogus
MeelionDollerBogus's picture

"you won't be able to print the bulb"
It's an LED and an LED is merely but chemicals. Are they layered? I'll have to go look it up. LED's are now a common technology. Maybe I'll turn out wrong but I'm willing to bet we can print them.
After all, there's tons of circuitboards already mass produced that have LED's on them and they are photolithography prints in mass production.

Fri, 11/01/2013 - 18:22 | 4113699 MeelionDollerBogus
MeelionDollerBogus's picture

Actually you're wrong on there being no drivers:
#1 once upon a time I was an escort driver. I deliver the package & pick her up again, collect the cash. I'm eyes, ears & sense of where not to be & what wrong answers to give as right answers.
#2 this job doubled as security guard. Meaning if there's a problem I break the knees of the problem.
Google driverless cars can't do that.

Thu, 10/31/2013 - 20:54 | 4110301 SpykerSpeed
SpykerSpeed's picture

To anyone who thinks 3D printing won't be a huge deal:

Keep in mind that 90% of what people buy at Wal-Mart is cheap plastic crap from China.  When 3D printers take off, poor Americans will be able to print up whatever plastic stuff they want to - be it silverware and glasses, shower heads, office supplies, that part that's missing from the vaccum cleaner, clothes baskets, tupperware, hair clips, glasses frames, etc.

You're talking billions in revenue vanished, and billions in dollars saved.

Thu, 10/31/2013 - 22:50 | 4110651 andrewp111
andrewp111's picture

Yes, you can print plastic parts like gears, cogs, cover plates and such. But you are not going to print electrical components that require winding coils (like motors), or print microelectonics unless you have a billion dollar fab.

Thu, 10/31/2013 - 22:52 | 4110659 WOAR
WOAR's picture

You can pick up copper coils from Home Depot. You can get blueprints and instructions online. What you can't fab in a machine can be made simplistic, or replaced by simpler components.

Fri, 11/01/2013 - 18:25 | 4113721 MeelionDollerBogus
MeelionDollerBogus's picture

why not? You can print conducting plastic circuits right now with inductors & resistors on it.
Right now. Not "the future".
Mind you what you can't seem to do is to print up a magnet so a motor itself would have a problem: there's a spot FOR magnets but you still need to put those in separately.
Same for other currently unprintable items like really strong springs or batteries.

Fri, 11/01/2013 - 03:13 | 4111046 Seer
Seer's picture

Ha ha!  Stuff from China is cheap because they're using recycled crap from elsewhere and because they can minimize costs at the expense of burning a bunch of coal (environment trashed = externalized costs) for energy.

The takeway point here is that this is about scale- no matter HOW it's done the process still requires the same basic amount of materials, and I figure that when all is properly accounted for, same basic amounts of energy (though the energy used to ship stuff will be removed from the equation*).

* One has to look to see where this "saved" energy goes.  I'm guessing, though it's kind of hard to quantify, that the shipping of raw materials to our doorstep will end up being less efficient than huge bulk deliveries to factories; and the per-unit costs also higher because of the packaging requirements (shelf vs bulk).

One last thing... there's also the concern about materials safety (MSDS).  Yes, you too can have the experience of crack-production-gone-bad right next door!

Fri, 11/01/2013 - 07:41 | 4111226 GCT
GCT's picture

Spyker go check the prices for the printing material it is outrageous.  Sure over time the price will drop.  But massed produced items do not have anything to worry about.  Laser produced items are real costly as the solution will put a serious hurt on your pocket book.  Most of these affordable printers cannot make an item larger then 10 inches.  Go bigger then that and they cost thousands to buy. 

I see 3D printing as modeling use only for a long time. 

Fri, 11/01/2013 - 18:27 | 4113730 MeelionDollerBogus
MeelionDollerBogus's picture

And why MUST a laser be used? If it's just for heat perhaps a quick blast of heat from an electric element will do once an entire layer is set & ready.
PLUS with modular design quite a lot of big things can be made from little parts & no need to print one single gigantic part. Otherwise rather than printing I'd dare say the object must be more sturdy so perhaps cutting or casting would be the way to go.

Thu, 10/31/2013 - 20:55 | 4110303 swmnguy
swmnguy's picture

This is a fascinating technology.  I first ran into it about 4 years ago, running a business meeting for Stratasys.  It took me a while to figure out what the hell they were talking about, and I couldn't tell right away if they were insane or really onto something.  Seems like it isn't there yet, but if they can refine the delivery and get some new materials developed, it could be huge.  Probably a speculative investment only for the average guy at this point.

Thu, 10/31/2013 - 20:58 | 4110314 SpykerSpeed
SpykerSpeed's picture

Also in 2014 a bunch of patents will expire on metal 3D printers.  So it won't just be plastic stuff, but metal tools and parts, too.  This is going to be a big deal.

And patents will go the way of the dodo for a lot of things.  People will be able to download Disney-themed toys for their kids and 3D print them - all without sending a dime of royalties to Disney corporation.

Thu, 10/31/2013 - 21:04 | 4110329 swmnguy
swmnguy's picture

Now there's the 800-pound gorilla in the room nobody wants to mention.  Patent and copyright law have barely acknowledged the invention of the photocopier and tape recorder, never mind the digital age.  We're going to have to come up with new ways to pay people for their creativity.

Fri, 11/01/2013 - 18:27 | 4113737 MeelionDollerBogus
MeelionDollerBogus's picture

Barter. Trade an idea for an idea.
Information should not be priced in dollars or much needed commodities. Physical resources are far, far more precious than mere information.

Thu, 10/31/2013 - 21:34 | 4110438 emersonreturn
emersonreturn's picture

disney...they deserve to be hit with some patent expiration. disney basically co-opted old folk tales and have repackaged the characters as their creation.  couldn't happen to a more deserved bunch of thieves and lawyers.

Thu, 10/31/2013 - 20:57 | 4110309 mark mchugh
mark mchugh's picture

I think what Obama meant to say was, "If you have a 3D printer...You didn't build that."

Thu, 10/31/2013 - 22:11 | 4110542 Pure Evil
Pure Evil's picture

I think you meant, "....You didn't print that."

Thu, 10/31/2013 - 20:59 | 4110316 Dewey Cheatum Howe
Dewey Cheatum Howe's picture

BTW the most promising business model I've seen concerning 3D printers is guys who basically will prototype anything you want. You provide the design then they cost out the materials and labor come back with a price quote for one offs and such. There are tech inclined 20 something year olds making a viable living doing this right now, in NY for example a lot of these 3D printer shops are popping up in Brooklyn now. You got a large artist community out that way that will pay for you to do production runs for jewelry designs and such made out of plastic to sell at flea markets and such.

Thu, 10/31/2013 - 21:04 | 4110334 El Tuco
El Tuco's picture

I would like to see a 3D printer go up against a Gridley or Davenport. What a fucking joke. What a 3D printer could make in an 2 hours one of those screw machines could make in a 10 seconds ( too bad the Chinese don't use them, they could raise their production 10 fold).

When it comes to metal and making 1000's of parts a 3D printer is useless. Maybe for R&D and one offs ok, but anything else I just can't see it. 


Thu, 10/31/2013 - 21:14 | 4110366 swmnguy
swmnguy's picture

I'd think R&D and one-offs would be exactly what these things would be best for.

Do NOT follow this link or you will be banned from the site!