"I was excited to read that NASA is sending a 3D printer into space. Seems such a natural fit: Astronauts can 'print' certain parts, rather than waiting for the next spaceship to visit ISS. "
@Alison, 3D printers are already in use at space station. they are waitig for the 4D printer
"is this 3D-printed stuff of a high enough quality to be used for anything important yet? If it's going to be used in healthcare, then it better be VERY reliable"
@Sarapeter, otherwise, NASA won't use it in space station for printing tools an related items
Hailey, I'd echo that. The great thing about all the hype is it will fuel the competition and start of that curve. Fundamentally, the lower price makes more sense anyway. The architecture isn't that much different from a dot-matrix printer, and they were very cheap.
I suspect that these printers will follow the curve of say, laster printers in the 90s. They went from $5,000 to $5,000 in about two years. They also got smaller and the consumables got more affordable. I think competition is the key... and also volume production.
@JimO, well, I don't know how well, or not, this 3D printer under 500 dollars prints, but if you need to print a prototype that doesn't require too much quality it may help. But again, I couldn't tell abou the quality of this printer, and I wouldn't like to assume anything.
$d parts tend to be complex designs, just because the 4D propeerties are constrianed and need clever layout to work right. That's ideal for the precision printing process, which can change material thickness in ways that stamping or even molding can't touch
Sara, it might have an impact on jobs in the prototyping fabrication field. That is an area that has strong representation where I am in Massachusetts because of all the R&D being done here. If those R&D shops can take prototype fabrication in house with 3D printers, it would hurt that sector. But 3D printing can't possibly replace industrial grade manufacturing. Too slow, too costly.
"With organ printing, Rich, we're talking not just about the scaffolding but about cell propagation -- is that considered printing? "
I'm guessing initially, with continued expansion afterwards, which sounds like 4D. In fact, instead of nano materials that expand and connect with neighboring materials, I wouldn't be surprised to see "artificial DNA" used (that's a helix of substances that follow a human-designed replication code, instead of the code that nature came up with, if I understand correctly).
Susan, I wonder how good a cheap printer is. Even so, prices will be dropping. A couple of years ago there were two makers. Now I suspect a dozen or more are cpmpeting.
The big industrial machines will be a bit slower dropping in price
@Michael, i suspect that as these technologies evolve our nomenclature has to evolve with it. It's a real complexity--because we are trying to describe an inherent change in what we are doing. I remember when i first saw the internet, i couldn't imagine it being anything but a flash in the pan (there goes my predictive abilities)
@JimO, excellent examples. I know a bunch of people in the entertainment props industry (think ren faires and videogame trade shows) and they are all chomping at the bit for the price and size capacity of 3D printers to change enough to meet their needs.
One of the problems I see is the number of ads that show a cup being printed. That's great, but hardly a serious justification given costs of good gear.
You have to find niches where alternatives are expensive.
Making fine blanks for the jewellry trade is a real value proposition, since the alternative methods, such as hand sculpting, take a lot of time.
Makinng molds for fiine wax blanks is another use.
I expect that trade to move extensively to 3D
Sorry...I have to drive across lower Manahattan at rush hour for the second time today. Must run. (Susan, please ask your space traveler friends if I can borrow a vessel next time I come to the NY area. I think they still have two saucers parked atop the NY State Pavillion from the 1964 Worlds Fair.)
@Mitch: LOL. In all seriousness, how far off are we from 3D printing being something that mainstream consumers can use? I get that it makes tons of sense for maunufacturing -- will this ever be cost-effective (and foolproof enough) for me to order, say, a kitchen item on Amazon and have it print out?
@Rodney Ha! Well wasn't it Doctor Who who could reverse the polarity of the neutron flow (even though neutrons have no polarity)? Or was that the Ghostbusters? Either way, I wouldn't be surprised if he's the first guy to figure out 4D printing
@Tom Murphy: I thought it was "fourth dimension," too, at first. Then I found out it is just a way to make things you print unfold into different shapes. They think they're going to get self-assembled products going. At least until the Klingons find out.
@JimO, I saw you mentioned one of the coolest applications of 3D printing is in healthcare. I'd like to add that not only an ear has been 3D printed, but a couple of years ago in the Netherlands a 3D printed jaw was transplanted to an 80 year-old woman.
@Jim Do you think any of the limitations of 3D printing are dus mostly to inadequacies in the printers themselves, the high price point of the printers, inadequacies in the materials being printed upon/with, general lack of creativity on the part of manufacturers, or something else entirely?
I think the process is too slo0w for general fabrication.I used it extensively for modelling computer cabinets that had complex conformance requirements, but one box took all night to print.
However, we had a series of small parts, and fabricating a days supply of these took maybe a couple of hours, so it was a production process for that sort of work.
We will be starting at 11 a.m. PST/2p.m. EST sharp. First, though, there are two housekeeping notes:
First, please make a copy of your post before hitting the "post" button – just in case. If the system "eats" one of your carefully crafted thoughts, please hit "Ctrl-Z" to recover it.
Dear Earthlings, I am making good tea for everybody. I brought you special scones, and Welsh cakes from London for your delight, and this special occasion. :D Now you be nice Earthlings, and quickly read the background material for this chat on 3D & 4D printing, if you haven't done it before, that is. :)
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