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The Future Is Here: A New Industrial Revolution

During my last trip to London this month I went to the Design Museum to get a look at The Future Is Here exhibition. A quick walk through the history of industrial design brought me to the 21st century's product and industrial design hand in hand with the latest technologies in design manufacturing.

Emerging technologies, such as crowdfunding, digital looms for social networking, online marketplaces, 3D printing, nanotechnology, biotech, networked manufacturing, Computer Numerical Controlled (CNC) routing, and open-source micro-computing, together with new manufacturing techniques, are already involving users in a new way, revolutionizing the role of the consumer. Basically, anyone can contribute to the production of our physical world.

These emerging technologies and platforms are making manufacturing accessible to anyone with a creative spark, and curiosity for experimentation. Not only will industrial design and manufacturing change, but fund and distribution will also see a significant transformation.

To showcase this transformation in engineering design and manufacturing, the Design Museum London houses the first “factory” (see slideshow below) where visitors are invited to discover how 3D printing works, and witness live production along with the friendly explanations of six of their non-trained technicians experimenting with six machines.

If you are in London, I encourage you to visit The Future Is Here exhibition at the Design Museum. The exhibition is a collaboration between the Design Museum, the UK's Innovation Agency, and the Technology Strategy Board, and is open until October 29. After immersing yourself in a sea of wondrous examples of the evolution of design engineering, you can take the opportunity to go for a stroll by the River Thames, just outside the museum.

If due to geographical impediment you can't visit the exhibit in the flesh, the slideshow below offers a curated sample of what I saw there. This virtual visit ends with a reflective thought of the evolution of design as a whole, and a view at Tower Bridge, and London's skyscrapers.

Click on the first picture to start the slideshow:

The Future Is Here at London's Design Museum

The Future Is Here presents emerging technologies that are rapidly becoming the growth sectors of tomorrow. Designer, maker, and consumer are become 'one' in an era with a growing movement of hacktivists. Sharing and downloading digital designs online in order to customize them for new users is a common place rapidly expanding into different manufacturing sectors. The exhibition looks at what exactly drives innovation, and how this can lead to increased manufacturing productivity, and economic growth. (All photos courtesy of Susan Fourtané)

The Future Is Here presents emerging technologies that are rapidly becoming the growth sectors of tomorrow. Designer, maker, and consumer are become “one” in an era with a growing movement of hacktivists. Sharing and downloading digital designs online in order to customize them for new users is a common place rapidly expanding into different manufacturing sectors. The exhibition looks at what exactly drives innovation, and how this can lead to increased manufacturing productivity, and economic growth.
(All photos courtesy of Susan Fourtané)

37 comments on “The Future Is Here: A New Industrial Revolution

  1. SP
    October 21, 2013

    It would be quite an experience to see ths demo of 3d printing.

  2. _hm
    October 21, 2013

    Do they have section for genetic engineering for artifical organs?

     

  3. itguyphil
    October 21, 2013

    If you search for it on Youtube, you'll find tons of videos with walkthroughs of the process.

  4. itguyphil
    October 21, 2013

    I'm not sure what you mean by “section” but they are already doing this. They have been for years now. I think in a lot of places, they're “safe” to use in humans.

  5. Susan Fourtané
    October 22, 2013

    SP, 

    Yes, indeed it was. It's one thing to know about new technologies, and another thing to see the machines in action, their products, and all. Very interesting. 

    -Susan

  6. Susan Fourtané
    October 22, 2013

    _hm, 

    “Do they have section for genetic engineering for artificial organs?”

    No, they don't. I have to go to a university research unit for that. 🙂 Maybe I go, if you are interested. 🙂 There are several I can go. 

    They have a section for medical applications, though. I'll post some pictures for you. 

    -Susan

  7. Susan Fourtané
    October 22, 2013

    pocharle, 

    I think he meant to see a live demo of the 3D printers at London's Design Museum exhibition. Did you see the slideshow?

    -Susan

  8. Susan Fourtané
    October 22, 2013

    pccharle, 

    He was referring to the exhibition. 🙂 

    -Susan

  9. jbosaavage
    October 22, 2013

    This is a pretty good video explaining the 3D printing process: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Eb2kijfQYTE

    I agree, it is a process that takes a while to wrap your head around!

  10. Alison Diana
    October 22, 2013

    NASA is pushing the envelope with 3D printing, announcing it plans to send a 3D printer to the ISS next year and it could soon print organisms from Mars via these devices. No, they're not claiming they'll be spewing out space aliens from their printers!

  11. Susan Fourtané
    October 22, 2013

    jbosavage, 

    Thanks for the link. Yes, that's a pretty interesting demo as well. However, I believe they shouldn't be advertising 3D printed guns as they showed there. Wasn't there a recent school shooting, again, somewhere in Nevada? Those people don't need more ideas. 

    -Susan

     

  12. Susan Fourtané
    October 22, 2013

    Alison, 

    3D printed out space aliens attacking Earth! 😀 Can you read the headlines yet? 

    Aerospace is one of the industries that is faster seeing the benefits of 3D printing. They are already using it. And well, NASA has the good 3D printers and the good materials, of course. 

    I think the 3D printer is already on its way to the ISS. Or maybe it's another one? I have some information about this I was researching. I'll have to check.

    -Susan

  13. Alison Diana
    October 22, 2013

    Any industry where travel is difficult will definitely benefit. So too will regions where travel is challenging — areas such as Alaska (where some villages only get deliveries once a month), for example, and obviously much more remote parts of the world, too. 

  14. Nemos
    October 22, 2013

    Thank you Susan for this report, it seems this exhibition very interesting, I would like to ask you if you have to pay an entrance fee to see the exhibition ?. Also if you could print a 3D object and take it with you as a souvenir ?

  15. Houngbo_Hospice
    October 23, 2013

    @Nemos,

    I think you would need to get tickets to be able to see the exhibition. See more information at http://designmuseum.org/exhibitions/2013/the-future-is-here.

  16. Houngbo_Hospice
    October 23, 2013

    @SF,

    ” I believe they shouldn't be advertising 3D printed guns as they showed there”

    I agree, I hope people will use 3D printed for more useful purposes than printing guns. I Enjoyed the slideshow.

  17. prabhakar_deosthali
    October 23, 2013

    Even if we are able to create a gun using the 3D printing technique, it won't work in the real sense because the material used to build the objects in a 3D printer is some polymer and not any kind of metal.

    So no reason to worry i guess!

     

  18. Jamescon
    October 23, 2013

    I think all the public attention paid to the potential for building a gun with a 3D printer does a disservice to all of the other applications for 3D printing in various manufacturing — including medical — fields. Even if the 3D printer is used only for prototypes or models of products it provides value. Plus, if someone has the money for a 3D printer they probably can afford to buy a gun from some of the nasty sorts of people on the street.

  19. ahdand
    October 23, 2013

    @Prabhakar: Yes true but then what is the purpose of printing such things with a high cost ?  

  20. Hailey Lynne McKeefry
    October 24, 2013

    @Susan, i'm glad to see younger folks there and invovled in conversation. For these kids, they are going to hardly remember a time when we didn't have the technologies that are making current adults squint and shake their heads…and they are going to expect contniued innovation.

  21. Hailey Lynne McKeefry
    October 24, 2013

    @Alison, that's a great point. I imagine ships at sea and spaceships could also really benefit. Anywhere you can't get stuff, as you said!

  22. Wale Bakare
    October 25, 2013

    @Prabhakar, Police have discovered a 3D printer which they believe criminals were using to try to make a gun. Read here

  23. Susan Fourtané
    October 26, 2013

    Alison,

    “Any industry where travel is difficult will definitely benefit. So too will regions where travel is challenging — areas such as Alaska (where some villages only get deliveries once a month), for example, and obviously much more remote parts of the world, too.”

    Yes! 🙂 This is the same case as telemedicine being essential to be adopted in those same regions.  

    -Susan

  24. Susan Fourtané
    October 26, 2013

    Nemos, 

    I am glad you liked it. 🙂

    Yes, you could 3D print a small object and take it with you, like the boy in the picture who took the little shark with him. Did you see the slideshow? 

    I was on a press visit, and have a Press Card so I didn't have to pay, but yes, there is an entrance fee of £10 and £6,50 for students that allows you to see this exhibition, and two other exhibitions.

    -Susan  

  25. Susan Fourtané
    October 26, 2013

    HH, 

    I'm glad you liked the slideshow. 🙂 I have more pictures if you want.

    “I hope people will use 3D printed for more useful purposes than printing guns. “

    Me, too. Unfortunately, we both know what is going to happen. At least someone should create a law to regulate the 3D printing gun advertising. People don't need more ideas of how to get guns easier. I am not even saying cheaper because that doesn't seem to be the problem they have.

    Seeing 3D printed guns in videos from showrooms like that annoys me, because you clearly see that no one really cares about the consequences. And what people say it's not important if their actions say otherwise.

    -Susan  

  26. Susan Fourtané
    October 26, 2013

    Prabhakar, 

    “Even if we are able to create a gun using the 3D printing technique, it won't work in the real sense because the material used to build the objects in a 3D printer is some polymer and not any kind of metal.”

    “We”? This is one reason why I don't like using “we”, I could never use it in a sentence like that because I am not going to create any gun. This use of  “we” may be off-topic, but knowing how you think it didn't sound well to read that you were including yourself in that creation. 🙁 I hope you see what I mean. 🙂 I have a particular issue with the generalized use of “we”. 

    And back to 3D printed guns, well, I have seen some video demos of people in the US who have been shooting things as a practice to see how a 3D printed gun works, and what needs to be improved. 

    The materials are evolving as well, and more materials are being used in 3D printing, even some metals. I am preparing an article about this topic precisely. So maybe you won't see a metal gun 3D printed right now, but you will see them soon, which is nothing I am lokking forward to seeing. 

    -Susan

  27. Susan Fourtané
    October 26, 2013

    JimC, 

    “… all the public attention paid to the potential for building a gun with a 3D printer does a disservice to all of the other applications for 3D printing in various manufacturing — including medical — fields.”

    Absolutely true. This is something to be remembered. It's also why 3D printer manufacturers shouldn't include guns in their showshooms. 

    I have no clue how much a gun can cost, but I just imagine it has to be more expensive that a 3D printer. In any case, as I mentioned below, now now but soon it could be a fact that people could easily 3D print guns that work. Materials are evolving, and it now possible to 3D print using certain metals. 

    -Susan

  28. Susan Fourtané
    October 26, 2013

    Nimantha, 

    Some people prefer to pay more for something illegal if that will keep them anonymous. I now wonder about how to recycle these things. Maybe they can be just melted. If that is possible if they can easily get rid of the evidence think how much easier crime would be.

    -Susan  

  29. Susan Fourtané
    October 26, 2013

    Hailey, 

    Turbines for airplanes have been 3D printed. 

    -Susan 

  30. Susan Fourtané
    October 26, 2013

    Hailey, 

    I loved to see so many kids there doing their research, and exploring everything. As the boy with little shark told me “the process could be faster.” What this means is that these kids are already getting involved into thinking what can be improved; in just a few years' time they could be the ones advancing these technologies at the speed of the light, because that's what they are asking for now.

    I am always fascinated when I find kids in these events. I always talk to with them, and every time I am fascinated with the level of conversation you can have with them when the topic is technology. In the Museum of Computing in Cambridge I also talked quite a lot with a kid. He knew a lot about programming, and as you could use all the machines in the exhibition he was using one of the old ones (from the 90s) to show me how they used to program in those days. I loved it. 🙂 

    -Susan  

  31. prabhakar_deosthali
    October 26, 2013

    Susan,

     

    Sorry to have used the word “We” implying you also part of the gun making idea.

    I was only discussing it in a theroretical angle and no practical experiment implied.

    “We” all are peace loving people but “We” always dread about  what “devil” minds could do with the new inventions created by “Us ” for some good puprose, like those high resolution 2D color printers being used to print fake currency notes.

     

  32. Susan Fourtané
    October 26, 2013

    Prabhakar, 

    No, that's not what I meant. 🙁 I didn't think it included me, but that it included you. And I know how you have used it, and what you implied, but I only wanted to say what I think of the use of “we” for generalizations. This is simply because I don't agree with generalizing. Don't worry about this, it's just me. 🙂 

    I am reading the article that Wale posted below. You need to read it, and watch the video. Here: http://uk.news.yahoo.com/police-first-3d-gun-printing-factory-010626400.html?vp=1#1nTlSom

    -Susan 

  33. Susan Fourtané
    October 26, 2013

    Wale, 

    Thanks so much for that link. The 3D printer they were using is like the one I saw, the Replicator 2 that is in the slideshow. 

     -Susan 

  34. prabhakar_deosthali
    October 26, 2013

    That article posted by Wale collaborates what I said about “devil” minds misusing some good technology for evil purpose.

    Whatever be the case, the good innovations cannot be stopped just because there could be some misuse of the same good technology which could be a boon for most of the community and 3D printing is such new technology useful for rapid prototyping and even for pilot production runs in some cases.

     

  35. Susan Fourtané
    October 27, 2013

    Prabhakar, 

    “Whatever be the case, the good innovations cannot be stopped just because there could be some misuse of the same good technology . . .”

    Exactly. I completely agree with you. Bad people with evil minds will always exist in the world, not for that progress has to stop. 

    -Susan

  36. SunitaT
    October 28, 2013

    Museums like these are efforts to show and educate people about the face of technology in modern times. Through this education they will be able to implement the newly learned ideas into their own business (like using 3D printing) and help promote technology. The type that binds user and technology together is needed.

  37. Susan Fourtané
    October 28, 2013

    tirlapur, 

    Indeed. Well said. I love your comment. 🙂 

    -Susan

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