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God bless hype and all who sail in her


womblemaster
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listen to this yank get all excited.

 

 

is this really something the chinese cant copy? 

 

ok putting aside my scepticism, has anyone come across this in RL ?

 

Surely the limiting factor is the cost of the printing materials.  Can see how this will be useful for small intricate items, but for larger items it must be while before it becomes economical to print them off.

 

Anyone know anything about this?

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Rapid prototyping or 3D printing. Its a technology that is rapidly advancing and the people behind it can ultimately see it being used in family homes and industry. I did a few modules about it at uni (I want to be in product development) and although there are several different types of how raw materials are made into the finished product, most work a similar way.

 

Take your PC printer at home for example. As it goes over the paper it drops a small amount of it onto the paper, thus creating an image. Imagine putting another layer on top, then another, and then another. Before you know it you have a product. Using different materials to create supporting structures (like scaffolding) to support hollows/overhangs, which later can be melted away, you can make some very technical products that would otherwise take multiple processes to do the same job. Imagine being able to log onto the net, download a component file, sending it to your 3D printer and creating a plastic part to repair something in your house? This is one direction the technology is going.

 

This example would have been made all at once and the individual cogs will function normal. Colours are easy to achieve and with time, materials will be too. Making this another way would need multiple processes that would bump up the time and price.

 

http://edge.alluremedia.com.au/m/g/2011/03/Prototype-Labs-Engineering-Prototype.png

 

As the technology gets more and more interest, more studies are going in to the different materials and processes that can be used. In uni workshops I've seen things ranging from small plastic replacement parts to complete metal mechanisms (with already positioned and fully functional gears) that are being used in F1 car engines. In addition, the size in which these printers can 'print' or 'build' is also increasing. I've not watched the whole video featured but body panels or even an entire engine could be produced relatively easily, you just need someone really good at creating and manipulating 3D computer models.

 

Fair enough it is pricey at the moment but the prices are tumbling as the range of technologies increase. Look at how computers have decreased in size and cost despite the power ultimately increasing beyond anyone's expectations. I don't believe it will go as far as people owning them in their own houses but for industrial/medical practices, the limitations are unknown.

 

It can even make fully flexible bras in one print ....

 

http://www.futuristspeaker.com/wp-content/uploads/3D-printed-fabric-N12-694.jpg

 

<removes the geek hat>

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