Printing out parts

Roamy here.  I saw this Popular Science article on printing out an entire airplane wing.  (Watch the video “Why I love my 3D printer” – it’s cute.)  Rapid prototyping is a misnomer now, because it’s not just for prototypes any more.  It started out as wax or plastic parts that could be warped or distorted from the original design if you didn’t pay attention to what you were doing, but still a useful tool for design and manufacturing.  Now you get aluminum or titanium parts that are ready to use, with less machining waste and usually less time. 

Rapid prototype impeller

NASA is looking at rapid prototyping as an essential part of a manned Mars mission, because you can’t possibly take spares of every single part you might need, and you can’t bring an entire machine shop, either.

5 thoughts on “Printing out parts”

  1. I’m working on building a CNC router in my garage right now. (Well, not -right- now, since I’m at work.) I’ve actually been working on it off and on for the past year or so, just haven’t had time to finish it yet.

    When I’m done with that, I’m looking at picking up a MakerBot at some point … 3D desktop rapid prototyping machine, it works in plastic. Costs about $700 for the kit.

  2. No, seriously, this is a big deal. Advance this tech by ten or twenty years, and you could conceivably have a fabrication workshop in every house, totally altering the manufacturing/retail paradigm. Look what the Internet, MP3s, the iPod, etc. did for music and how we obtain and use it.

    Need a replacement belt for your car? Buy the plans online and have it made at home. I’m sure things will start simple, but then get more and more complex. How about a shirt? This might be the way to make China’s near-slave-labor obsolete.

    Once we have that tech, the next Big Thing will be replicating food and fossil fuels. Imagine what that would do to agribusiness. To energy.

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