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The 3D Economy — What Happens When Everyone Prints Their Own Shoes?

Soulskill posted about 10 months ago | from the anarchy-and-chaos-and-sore-feet dept.

Businesses 400

cold fjord writes: "According to Reason, 'Last May, Cody Wilson produced an ingeniously brief but nuanced manifesto about individual liberty in the age of the ever-encroaching techno-state-a single shot fired by a plastic pistol fabricated on a leased 3D printer. While Wilson dubbed his gun The Liberator, his interests and concerns are broader than merely protecting the Second Amendment. ... Wilson is ultimately aiming for the 'transcendence of the state.' And yet because of the nature of his invention, many observers reacted to his message as reductively as can be: 'OMG, guns!'... But if armies of Davids really want to transcend the state, there are even stronger weapons at their disposal: toothbrush holders, wall vases, bottle openers, shower caddies, and tape dispensers. ... In many ways, it's even harder to imagine a city of, say, 50,000 without big-box retailers than it is to imagine it without a daily newspaper. So perhaps 3D printing won't alter our old habits that substantially. We'll demand locally made kitchen mops, but we'll still get them at Target. We'll acquire a taste for craft automobile tires, but we'll obtain them from some third party that specializes in their production. Commercial transactions will still occur. But if history is any guide, more and more of us will soon be engaging in all sorts of other behaviors too. Making our own goods. Sharing, swapping, and engaging in peer-to-peer commerce. Appropriating the ideas and designs of others and applying them to our own ends.'"

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So far away (5, Insightful)

Anrego (830717) | about 10 months ago | (#46610695)

I have to imagine that the climb to that level of 3D printing (assuming we ever get there) will be so gradual that society will have plenty of time to adjust.

Re:So far away (5, Insightful)

DerekLyons (302214) | about 10 months ago | (#46610763)

I doubt it will ever get there... not everyone cooks or even microwaves their own food after all.

And that's without pondering whether we'll ever get a 3D printer that can print all those things that require so many different characteristics (I.E. so many different materials) - and still be cheap enough to be affordable to the average consumer. The average 3D printing fanboy seems to seriously lack a grasp of just how far we are from practical large scale 3d printing.

Re:So far away (3, Insightful)

Jeremiah Cornelius (137) | about 10 months ago | (#46610863)

When 3D printing becomes fast, cheap and ubiquitous, the makers of Lego, and the makers of crappy plastic keychains will have to find another business.

Re:So far away (2)

Jeremy Erwin (2054) | about 10 months ago | (#46610905)

Is there particular reason why you would choose to group Lego with crappy plastic keychains?

Re:So far away (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#46610923)

Keychains, yes, and maybe even kitchen appliences, but it'll be a while before 3D printers are good enough tolerance to do legos: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lego#Design

Re:So far away (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#46611081)

When 3D printing becomes fast, cheap and ubiquitous, the makers of Lego

3D printing will never be faster or cheaper that how Lego's are manufactured [lego.com] now. They make 1,140 elements per second. Injection molding will always be faster and cheaper than 3D printing.

Re:So far away (4, Insightful)

drkim (1559875) | about 10 months ago | (#46611163)

When 3D printing becomes fast, cheap and ubiquitous, the makers of Lego, and the makers of crappy plastic keychains will have to find another business.

3D printing won't start out competing with uniform, mass-produced, molded plastics.

Where 3D printing will make it's commercial inroads will be in custom ergonomic products; custom shoes that fit your scanned feet, armrests for you chair, gloves, glasses frames that fit your face perfectly, headrest for your car, coffee cups and glasses molded to your hand, pads for your headphones and ear buds, pens and computer mice that fit your hand perfectly, etc.

Re:So far away (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#46610975)

Microwave is actually a good example how an invention can change our life. Many don't cook their own food, just buy some frozen crap.

Re:So far away (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#46611105)

Just like the Microwave killed of the restaurant industry, since everyone could cook at home, 3D printing will kill manufacturing.

Re:So far away (2)

DanielRavenNest (107550) | about 10 months ago | (#46611055)

> And that's without pondering whether we'll ever get a 3D printer that can print all those things that require so many different characteristics

You have missed the concept of distributed peer-to-peer commerce alluded to in the summary. You will not have a single machine that can make everything, but access to many different machines across a network, one of which might be yours. Shapeways (http://www.shapeways.com/) has the centralized version of this already. They have a building full of a bunch of 3D machines that can handle about a dozen different materials, but they only have one location.

Makerspaces are community organizations that have multiple tools and machines, shared among their users. There are more of those, in various cities. The end point will be many such local workshops, plus individuals who have their own machines, and all of it linked into a network that can produce whatever you need. I'm starting up such a project, where besides making end products, the factory also makes more of itself ( http://www.seed-factory.org/ [seed-factory.org] ) ( http://en.wikibooks.org/wiki/S... [wikibooks.org] ) . It's not fully self-replicating in the sci-fi sense, it requires people and outside supplies of parts and materials, but it is capable of growing.

Re:So far away (3, Interesting)

ColdWetDog (752185) | about 10 months ago | (#46611161)

Somehow, I don't think I'm going to ever trust my neighbor's foray into printing car tires. If he gets so organized and skilled that he can make a tire that competes with a Chinese manufacturer then he probably is going to sell them at a store or perhaps on line. No different from the way I get things now.

Even in the moderate term, 3D printing will be evolutionary, not revolutionary. It will fit certain applications, it will not be a good fit for many others. I doubt it will create any fundamental change in the economy. We're NOT talking about Star Trek replicators here.

I don't print my own photos (1)

goombah99 (560566) | about 10 months ago | (#46611031)

You have to be nuts or in an impossible hurry to print casual keepsake photographs with your inkjet printer on photopaper when you can get infinitely nicer one for pennies from Winkflash or Apple or whatever.

I'm sure the same will be true of 3D printing, hobbyists and pros will print their own. The rest of us will go down to Kinkos and pick up our completed part.

Not necessarily (4, Interesting)

rsilvergun (571051) | about 10 months ago | (#46611073)

the problem is instant manufacturing. It won't be a 3D printer in your home, it'll be one at the store. That'll be doable in my life time. Heck, some officemaxs already have 3D printers, and there's a little commune of hobbyists doing 3D printing too.

It means the end of an entire industry of logistics, shipping, etc. That combined with automation (most factories employee less than 100 people unless they're paying subsistence wages) is going to cause huge social upheaval.

Re:So far away (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#46611093)

Well, if it jibes with the rising sea levels, my life raft should be ready just in time...

We will basically go backwards in time. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#46610709)

We will go back to a time where independent was the norm and larger entities will become the still large but now minority in terms of content creation, be it physical or virtual.

3D printing can create some good stuff, but it still won't be an Apple, or a Ferrari. The brand, just like others, will still have power, but they will also be smaller in terms of sales. They will need to adapt massively, but they will still be able to exist if they do it right. (which more than half won't do, admittedly)

One thing is for sure, all the stores that get behind 3D printing before others do will be rewarded massively when the 3D printing economy booms.

eye glasses (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#46610713)

3d printer frames and lenses will break the global eyeglass monopoly

Re:eye glasses (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#46610873)

Or so you'd like to think...

Takes off monocle and polishes it.

Re:eye glasses (4, Informative)

Animats (122034) | about 10 months ago | (#46610931)

It's amazing that one company has been able to obtain 80% market share in eyeglass frames in the US. It's not like they're hard to make. Frames start at $0.60 on Alibaba.

For really cheap glasses, you make them round. Ordinary lenses have three parameters - spherical radius, cylindrical radius, and cylinder axis. For round lenses, only the first two matter; the third is determined when the lens goes into the frame. So there's a briefcase-sized kit used in India with a set of standard round lenses moulded from polycabonate, standard round frames, an adjustable temporary frame for the eye exam, an eye chart, and a little gadget to notch the lenses to keep them from rotating once the desired cylinder axis is determined.

Automobile tires? (2, Funny)

damn_registrars (1103043) | about 10 months ago | (#46610731)

That is an interesting idea for sure. I'm not sure if we could ever really get to 3D printing that could print something that durable; arguably a tire goes through even more physical wear than the guns that have been printed so far.

It does leave me to wonder though if we could print a tire straight on to the rim. Then the whole matter of mounting is no longer an issue - although balancing likely still would be. Could a service truck with a 3D printer print a new tire for a motorist in comparable time - and with better safety - than what it takes to put a space saver spare on from the trunk?

Re:Automobile tires? (4, Insightful)

jklovanc (1603149) | about 10 months ago | (#46610779)

Show me a 3D printer that can print the following and maybe that can print a tire;
1. Different vulcanized rubbers for tread abd side wall. Currently there are no 3D printers that can print vulcanized rubber.
2. High tensile strength steel wire for the tire bead. Metal printing can be done but tempering is difficult especially when it is next to rubber.
3. Long Nylon fibers for the strengthening plies.
A tire is actually a very complex object requiring many different materials most of which can not be 3D printed.

Re:Automobile tires? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#46610881)

And even if you could print it, could you do it for less than the $150 or so the tire would cost you from a store?

Re:Automobile tires? (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#46611009)

This is what people that think 3D printing will take over the world fail to realize.


You cannot 3D print out high tensile strength steel wire, because that strength comes from the orientation of the atom and molecules. That orientation is achieved by drawing it through a die.

Same the polymers that make up the Nylon wire.

Also the strength in a tire also comes from the directions rubber sheets are applied in.

Re:Automobile tires? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#46610797)

Automobile tires contain cords for strength. You can't 3D-print that, at least not yet.

Re:Automobile tires? (1)

Anrego (830717) | about 10 months ago | (#46610853)

Modern tires are actually ridiculously complex. Different types of rubber and other materials are fused using different temperatures and pressures, not to mention various steel bands and strengthening fibres.

Assuming you could do all that, there'd be a massive safety concern as well.

I think things like tires will be one of the last things we see printed.

Re:Automobile tires? (4, Funny)

Jeremy Erwin (2054) | about 10 months ago | (#46610891)

Assuming you could do all that, there'd be a massive safety concern as well.

You may have concerns about safety. But the people who subvert the evil tire cartel may not. To attempt to impose your narrow view of "safety" upon others is the very essence of statism.

Re:Automobile tires? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#46611135)

Poe, you magnificent bastard.

Amazing (5, Funny)

rasmusbr (2186518) | about 10 months ago | (#46610739)

So if I understand this correctly, thanks to the 3D printer we will soon have access to affordable items made of plastic.

Wow, it's difficult to even imagine what the world will be like!

Re:Amazing (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#46610767)


Re:Amazing (4, Insightful)

itsdapead (734413) | about 10 months ago | (#46611067)

So if I understand this correctly, thanks to the 3D printer we will soon have access to affordable items made of plastic.

Actually, make that less affordable items made of plastic, since buying and maintaining a domestic-size 3D printer and keeping it fed with raw materials is almost certainly going to cost more per item then buying mass-produced stuff. That's without factoring in the time needed to load up the printer, trim and assemble the output etc (So, how long is it going to take your home 3D printer to grind out a soap dish, shower nozzle, curtain rail, 20 curtain rings... and how much hand-finishing will they need?) When 3D printing technology evolves beyond making simple plastic widgets very slowly, you'll bet that factories will be installing industrial-strength ones that can turn out items at 1000 times the rate and at 1/1000 of the cost of your home printer...

What do the cartridges cost? (2)

rossdee (243626) | about 10 months ago | (#46610743)

I gave up Inkjet printers years ago because of the cost, I can't see how 3d printers will have cheaper cartridges...

Re:What do the cartridges cost? (1)

B33rNinj4 (666756) | about 10 months ago | (#46610781)

Depending on the 3-D printer that you have, you can buy the spools of material separately, then load it into a cartridge. You could probably do this on all machines with a small amount of modding.

Re:What do the cartridges cost? (1)

Enry (630) | about 10 months ago | (#46610825)

You're not limited to one vendor of material. Some printers support different kinds of material, and I seem to remember seeing something (on slashdot?) with a way of making your own filament from chopped up plastic bottles.

Re:What do the cartridges cost? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#46610993)

You're thinking of the filabot reclaimer.

It's a NEAT idea, somewhat less amazing in actual use. (because reclaiming plastic is far from a science!)

Re:What do the cartridges cost? (1)

MightyYar (622222) | about 10 months ago | (#46610875)

I think that's a remarkably prescient analogy. Ink jets are generally not cost effective for home use. For instance, you can go down to Walgreens and get prints from their (better) equipment for almost half the price compared to printing at home. I imagine that home 3D printers would be limited and expensive, and that places like Walmart would have a print station analogous to the photo center at Walgreens.

Re:What do the cartridges cost? (2)

dccase (56453) | about 10 months ago | (#46610997)

Now you can print your own Inkjet cartridges at home!

what if the gadgets fail us? where we came from (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#46610747)

'stuff' can be made in a variety of ways when we're not forced to be the machines' keepers? giving away more than we keep is easier when we have less? good sports with good spirits can make shoe polish out of poop? hand made shoes are much more comfortable for sure. maybe we're still too busy?

Never going to happen (4, Insightful)

areusche (1297613) | about 10 months ago | (#46610765)

Unless 3D printers can start molding metals, rubber, paint, and various other base materials then this is a non-issue. The article reads like 3D printers are going to become Star Trek replicators and somehow end the concept of branding. They're useful for fabricating small unique plastic parts, not making a stove, Benz, or Macbook Pro.

Re:Never going to happen (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#46610855)

I bet Kodak thought the same thing when the first home printers came out....
Sure, it's not a reality today but I bet you good money that there will be shops within a decade that will have great printing abilities for metals and other materials. I may not be able to print a Benz with it but I may be able to print a rotor for a Benz with it.

Re:Never going to happen (1)

Immerman (2627577) | about 10 months ago | (#46610877)

They're also good for making large ceramic or sintered titanium parts, like mixing chambers for rocket engines. And yes, there are printers that print in rubber as well. The plastic-building hobbyist printers are just that - for hobbyists. Spend $10-100k and you can get something truly impressive. And the prices are falling fast, by something like tenfold in the last decade IIRC, with no sign of stopping.

"Star Trek" replicators will probably require more sophisticated systems capable of assembling dissimilar materials, and things which probably can't be printed such as tempered metals, but frankly I suspect there are relatively few situations where such things will truly be necessary.

Nope (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#46610771)

It's an interesting thought experiment, but the simple fact is that every time peer-to-peer X begins to gain momentum, it is quashed by the State, at the behest of corporate interests. Money is power, and their power is absolute.

Re:Nope (1)

spire3661 (1038968) | about 10 months ago | (#46611131)

The only absolute power in governance rests with The People.

They'll be printing money next! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#46610775)

God damn libertarian kids and their 3D 'fuck the system' wet dreams.

Re:They'll be printing money next! (3, Insightful)

temcat (873475) | about 10 months ago | (#46610799)

Don't worry, the government will get involved much earlier. Since the shoes that you've 3D printed can be argued to be more valuable than the raw material, they'll just tax the difference.

Re:They'll be printing money next! (1)

bkmoore (1910118) | about 10 months ago | (#46610843)

I thought you were going to say they would print gold bars!!! But wait, then you would need gold to print gold. We've got a conundrum...

Re:They'll be printing money next! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#46610903)

Bullion goes in, jewelry comes out!

Not gonna happen (1, Insightful)

hweimer (709734) | about 10 months ago | (#46610783)

We live in an economy of mass production because it is way, way cheaper per unit to produce stuff in very large quantities. Even if 3D printing should become the way of manufucturing in the future, we'll still go the big-box retailer for our shoes and get a 3D-printed one from the shelf (or order them online) rather than printing them at home.

Technolibertarians and economic ignorance (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#46610793)

Go hand in hand. [econlib.org]

Economics of scale... (0)

Kenja (541830) | about 10 months ago | (#46610809)

It will always be cheaper to have a thousand of something made then one, allowing a profit margin for reselling the thousand at a price lower then a person can make the one.

Re:Economics of scale... (2)

digsbo (1292334) | about 10 months ago | (#46611147)

And it will always be better to run IT as a centralized system on a mainframe than it will be to give people personal computers.

These things go in cycles. There are some things which will be much cheaper and more efficient to 3-d print; lots of small plastic bits that break and render a larger item useless, like the brackets on my $50 folding chair, or a doohickey on a plastic toy. Put the old one together, put it in the scanner, replicate one without a crack in it. There's not enough of those little parts to repair to warrant a centralized, economy-of-scale market for any specific item, but there is an economy of scale in having a cheap replicator for lots of little things that can break like plastic handles and so on.

Power generation may see a similar shift; it will be more economical for those who can to install solar grids or methane fuel cell systems at home than to rebuild the whole power grid.

We just don't know when specific markets will make gain in distributed as opposed to centralized distribution.

smoke some more of that (2)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#46610811)

How do you get to be a submitter to Slashdot? This article and summary have no actual content.

"If history is any guide" we will continue to do what we have done up to now. Honestly what a wasted article about nothing.

Re:smoke some more of that (0)

BronsCon (927697) | about 10 months ago | (#46610939)

Did you know that before you clicked? Learn to clickbait, that's how.

Watch "how it's made" first (4, Insightful)

caseih (160668) | about 10 months ago | (#46610831)

Seriously before we go off in a discussion of how 3d printing will change everything, it'd be helpful to first understand how modern things are actually made, currently. When people talk about printing car tires, I just laugh. They don't have a clue what's inside a tired. I highly recommend watching "how it's made." then we can talk about what 3d printing is good for. I think 3d printing will revolutionize things but maybe not in the way most people think.

Creating moulds, tooling, prototypes, one offs, that's where 3d printing is hitting its stride. Or maybe structural plastic manufacturing. But complicated items like tires always will be complicated involving many materials and many construction techniques and steps.

Re:Watch "how it's made" first (5, Interesting)

bkmoore (1910118) | about 10 months ago | (#46611043)

....Or maybe structural plastic manufacturing....

Structural plastic developer here, three years of professional experience in this area. The problem from a purely structural standpoint is that 3d printing cannot print fibre-reinforced plastics. There has been some preliminary work on this at the Frauenhofer Institut in Stuttgart, Germany. http://www.ipa.fraunhofer.de/ [fraunhofer.de] Their solution is running a nylon thread through the printer nozzle. For this, they have a spool of thread and a mechanism similar to a sewing machine on the printer head. This creates a part with a continuous thread that is oriented in the raster pattern traveled by the printer head. But the part does not have the characteristics of an injection-molded fibre-reinforced part, which would have many small fibers with many various orientations. I visited the site personally and saw their research first hand. They still have some technological problems to work out. For example, I don't think they understand shrinkage fully and would have a hard time complying with engineering tolerances. But for a quick prototype, more than adequate. Prototypes can be made to fit. ;-)

I won't go into material cost. Any industrial 3D printing outfit, that's halfway serious about what they do, would use raw granulate and not buy cartridges. But the main short coming of 3D printing as opposed to injection molding in a production environment is the cycle time. A complex part with tight tolerances (TG 3 after DIN 16742) of around 100-200 Gramms in an fibre-reinforced PA6 or PA12 can be injection molded in about two to three minutes, depending on injection temperature and cooling time in the mold, etc. The actual injection time is around one second for a reference. Otherwise material hardens during the injection process. The time required to print the same part would be many hours or even a day or more, depending on the printer used. I was at a 3D outfit and showed them a simple part of less than 10 Gramms. It would have taken in their estimation 30 minutes to print. Not good for mass production.

Where 3D printing is actually useful is generating rapid 3D prototypes or for doing custom parts in non-reinforced plastics. But custom parts, if they do wind up in the hands of a customer, aren't of good enough quality for my company to sell without hand-finishing to at least simulate the surface finish and texture of an injection-molded part. Acetone can be used here to make a smooth surface finish. Costs are high, but less than the cost of making a mold for a one-of-a-kind part. Alternatively custom parts can be made the old-fashioned way, that is by hand.

Usually the marketing people want the 3D parts more than the developers. Sometimes we use printed parts in development prototypes for parts where we haven't gotten around to making a prototype mold for. But these parts have limits, they usually cost a lot and if I need a high two digit or a three-digit-quantity, it's usually much cheaper to make a prototype mold. But sometimes it's difficult to convince management of that, which is probably a common problem. But after a couple of projects, the management's starting to come around to my point of view on this.

Liberty Bah.. (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#46610835)

Liberty is NOT defined with a gun. Liberty is defined by not needing one.
How can anyone be free when they are so frightened of their neighbours / townspeople / countrymen that they only way they can feel safe is with a gun.
Living in that cage of fear and paranoia will NEVER be freedom or liberty.

Re:Liberty Bah.. (1)

Jeremy Erwin (2054) | about 10 months ago | (#46610913)

Sounds as if you are confusing positive liberty with negative liberty.

Re:Liberty Bah.. (0)

jedidiah (1196) | about 10 months ago | (#46610921)

Liberty is about being able to do what you want when you want. That necessarily includes doing things that your idiot neighbors might disapprove of. That includes buying and owning things that frighten them because they choose to remain ignorant and then show off that ignorance like a badge of honor.

Your contempt for the common man is plain and one wonders how soon it will migrate from property rights to voting rights.

It's really this fearful herd mentality that will undermine the usefulness of 3-D printing.

As others have said, people don't even cook for themselves anymore. Forget about printing out their own shoes.

Re:Liberty Bah.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#46611029)

"Liberty is about being able to do what you want when you want.", then there is no such thing as liberty because what you describe is Anarchy.

Can you walk around town naked ?
how about drive around town at 100m/hr ?
store dangerous chemical waste on your front lawn ?
sit on your front door step and shoot anything that comes onto your section, cats, dogs, salesmen ?
what about drugs, can you sell heroin , ketamine , LSD ?

You have no liberty and owning a gun does not give it to you.

Re:Liberty Bah.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#46610979)

That's right, just keep stirring the pot, fascist.

plastic shoes (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#46610837)

last time i wore plastic shoes i was in county, i think i'll pass

3D printers won't replace current manufacturing... (2)

laird (2705) | about 10 months ago | (#46610841)

3D printing won't replace traditional manufacturing, any more than home laser printers replaced commercial printing. It enables NEW BEHAVIORS that are different, and any replacement is indirect. What 3D printing does is enable people to make unique, personalized things that can't be mass produced. So, for example, the e-NABLE project (http://enablingthefuture.org) lets people affordably make prosthetics custom fit for each individual, at a cost of $50 (in materials) instead of $thousands for commercial prosthetic hands. And that's a perfect application of 3D printing because each patient's needs are unique, and 3D printing can provide a cheap solution that's financially accessible to millions of people who can't afford the commercial options.

But if something can be mass produced, with millions of identical injection molded widgets sold cheaply, it makes no sense to 3D print it, because mass production is astoundingly efficient, and 3D printing adds no value.

That's why 3D printing guns is strictly a PR tactic to promote a political agenda by associating it with a sexy new technology. In reality, 3D printed guns are terrible guns, and expensive to produce. High quality guns are extremely efficiently mass produced so they are cheap and widely available, and if you want guns that aren't mass produced, people have been making guns in their homes for 200 years. Heck, you can make a better "gun" than a liberator with a piece of wood and a drill, and people have been making them forever. The reason people don't use "zip guns" any more is because they're dangerous, and real guns are so cheap. The "Liberator" is more dangerous to the user, and more expensive.

Re:3D printers won't replace current manufacturing (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#46610965)

The issue with 3d printed guns was never portrayed to be "this is a better way to make guns", but instead "this is a way that anyone could get a gun and it can't be regulated".

Re:3D printers won't replace current manufacturing (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#46611017)

You're making the assumption that "traditional manufacturing" can survive much longer.. alas, our major industries are dependant on reasonably stable international politics, which are not guaranteed to exist in their prior state (at all really!)

Oh for the... (5, Funny)

Ignacio (1465) | about 10 months ago | (#46610845)

What happened to supermarkets when people started being able to grow their own food?

Stupidity (4, Informative)

jklovanc (1603149) | about 10 months ago | (#46610847)

Thanks for all the stuff, Foxconn, but we get our gadgets from Pirate Bay and MEGA now.

I really hate these kinds of articles. Foxconn mainly makes electronics like iPhones. There is no way to 3D print an iPhone. The glass can not be printed, The circuit boards can not be printed. The chips can not be printed. Lets get down to reality. 3D printing can make plastic objects and metal objects from a very limited range of material. Most objects we buy use other materials. Where they work they work very well but there are more things than can not be 3D printed than can. Many items that can be 3D printed are still much more economical to produce using conventional methods. For example a stainless steel mixing bowl can be 3D printed but it would take quite a while on a very expensive printer to make one and then would need to be polished. Using presses one could stamp out hundreds in the same time. Just because one can does not mean it is economical.

This whole "3D printing will change the world" meme is just stupid. Will some things change? Sure. Will a significant portion of manufacturing change? Not likely.

Re:Stupidity (0)

phantomfive (622387) | about 10 months ago | (#46610955)

Even if you could get nanometer silicon features printed into a phone, do you really think it would be cheaper than the mass production methods we have right now? Where are you going to source all the materials?

Re:Stupidity (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#46611085)

Luddite. We'll all have a periodic table of the elements cartridge. We'll get power from space-based solar arrays. Or from Moon-mined He3 fusion reactors, which are only ten years away after all!

And for people far away, we'll get every atom we need from seawater. Printing ICs is just a question of putting the right atoms at the right place. You know, like how they promised us 30 years ago with nanotechnological assemblers? Remember that ST:TNG episode with the nanites? Looks silly now, eh? It was obviously 3D printers that will bring the revolution!

Nanotechnology was silly, but a glue gun on a stepper motor, THAT'S THE FUTUUUUUUUUUUUUUURE OF THE *SPECIES*!!

Quantum Apostrophe was banned from Fark for speaking the truth! Never forget that!

Shortsightedness (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#46610971)

And what do you think will happen when 3D printers advance and CAN use those other materials that the majority of our products are made of? What happens when we perfect 3D printed food? Or when we scale up and can 3D print entire buildings? Saying these advancements will never happen is a ludicrous as saying that someone will never make A.I. or never travel to other planets. These things aren't a matter of if, but when. And what happens when 3D printing DOES advance that far? Yes, it'll be a while, the tech is new and these issues won't come into play immediately, but do you honestly believe that no one is ever going to push the envelope of 3D printers beyond where they are now?

Re:Shortsightedness (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#46611159)

We'll never have manned travel to other planets. Are you high, delusional or a high school dropout? At the peak of the space race, we only managed to send a handful of test pilots to the Moon at a cost of something like 10% of the GDP of the USA. For what?

We don't even have supersonic passenger transport anymore for fuck's sake!

"Saying these advancements will never happen is a ludicrous as saying that someone will never make A.I. or never travel to other planets."

Whatever happened to "extraordinary statements require extraordinary proof"? You just believe any crap you were fed as a kid in sci-fi?

1970s: "Computers and automation will enable the leisure society! 20 hour workweek for the same lifestyle!" 2014: Both heads of the family need to work for less take-home pay than in 1970s.

1980s: "Nanotechnological assemblers will manipulate matter atom by atom! It'll be so powerful it might turn the whole planet into Gray Goo!" 2014: Fine powders. Some better paints.

1990s: "Virtual Reality will enable us to live in unfinished apartments and we'll just download new scenery into our neural plugins!" 2014: Some video games. 3D TVs are passé. Too many headaches.

2000s: "Web 2.0 Push content will change the world! It's the end for brick and mortar stores! We can create wealth indefinitely just from dot coms!" Um, 2008?

2010s: "3D printing will completely change everything! You won't recognize the world in ten years! That's the same amount of time we'll have fusion reactors, Moon colonies and asteroid mining! And space-based solar power!"

There are FAR more things that NEVER happened than DID. Promises, fantasies and delusions are a penny a ton in fifteen ton lots.

So are broken dreams. Wake up. In ten years, you'll look back at this and wonder what the hell you were thinking.

Re:Stupidity (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#46610999)

Quantum Apostrophe got banned from Fark for saying this. QA said it for years. No one listened. QA still waits to be kidnapped and brought to Elon Musk's 3D condo on Mars.

egypt says guy to be new queen of the nile? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#46610851)

or else he's going to kill almost everybody like he's doing today

Manufacturing will be decentralized (0)

Karmashock (2415832) | about 10 months ago | (#46610871)

Just because people can print their own shoes doesn't mean they will print them.

What you'll probably have instead is the local shoe store printing its own inventory. This will mean greater opportunities for diversity and innovation.

You'll also get franchises that all output the same stuff.

And of course, the source material for whatever these shoes are made out of will have to be provided by some sort of industry. A cradle to cradle supply chain would be preferred but that's likely unworkable. Still, would be nifty if they could make new shoes out of old.

Re:Manufacturing will be decentralized (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#46611039)

Just because people can print their own shoes doesn't mean they will print them.

What you'll probably have instead is the local shoe store printing its own inventory.

I doubt this seeing as shoe stores used to make their shoes on site then moved away from that because central manufacturing will always be more efficient.

Difficult to do stuff will remain expensive (1)

HuguesT (84078) | about 10 months ago | (#46610883)

We've had the technical capacity to make durable metal items with numerical lathes for a long time, however it remains a skilled job. For the time being home 3D printing is more or less limited to making fragile plastic stuff. I can't see how that will soon start a revolution.

expertise will still make money (1)

snakeplissken (559127) | about 10 months ago | (#46610893)

even if the economics make it worthwhile to print my own stuff, there are some items that will need to be trusted for their safety and or performance characteristics.
you won't catch me printing my own car tyres (or even my car) if i can't trust the printer to have the necesary reliability and tolerances and the design to be safe.

for these requirements we will still need a way to trust the source of designs and the actual manufacturing device, individuals will therefore be able to aquire money/status/chicks/guys/food/whatever by being a) skilled and knowledgeable, b) in possession of 'industrial' printers.
one might imagine that once a design has been proven then only the proper printer is necessary and the requirement for skill and knowledge in design becomes less important. but i envisage a world in which 3d printing allows for greater and greater customisation of our possessions, at which point 'one size fits all' designs become insufficient and the need to consult with the local guru arises.


Back to basics (1)

aXi (6533) | about 10 months ago | (#46610901)

He whom develops the best building materials for 3D machines will prevail.

3D printing = "transcendence of state"... (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#46610919)

...in the same way 2D printing = "paperless office".

Re:3D printing = "transcendence of state"... (2)

Dutchmaan (442553) | about 10 months ago | (#46611041)

...in the same way 2D printing = "paperless office".

(+1 Oxymoron)

Like photo printers (1, Interesting)

crow (16139) | about 10 months ago | (#46610925)

Remember how photo printers put photo shops out of business? Not exactly. If you want prints, it's usually cheaper to go to the local drug store or box store and print them out there than it is to buy the special paper and ink yourself. It will likely be the same with 3-D printing. If you don't do it all the time (and most people won't), it will be cheaper to print your designs at a local shop. They'll have the large high-quality industrial printer that you can't afford, along with a wider choice of materials than you could stock.

What it will do is cut into the profit margins for mass-produced items. They will have to compete with the price of printing out your own design, not just what other companies are charging. That will eat into the profits of retailers.

Re:Like photo printers (2)

Animats (122034) | about 10 months ago | (#46610987)

Remember how photo printers put photo shops out of business?

Well, yes. I haven't seen any photo shops lately. "1 Hour Photo" is dead. Kinkos has photo printers, and so do the local CVS and Walgreens, but they're not used much. Nobody has an in-store film processor any more. Palo Alto still has Keeble and Shugat, a high end photo equipment store with pro darkroom services. Redwood City has some wedding-photographer types and some commercial printers. That's about it.

Re:Like photo printers (1)

tuffy (10202) | about 10 months ago | (#46611097)

Hardly anybody prints their photos at all these days since people just stick them on the interwebs, but I think the basic argument is sound. Economics of scale mean that it'll likely always be cheaper to buy widgets from some company who cranks them out in the millions than trying to buy a bunch of equipment to print them at home.

Re:Like photo printers (1)

the eric conspiracy (20178) | about 10 months ago | (#46611101)

When I want a print I upload my digital image to a large photo shop, who then return the prints by mail.

No need to waste oil by driving someplace.

You already can do shoes.. (1)

Lumpy (12016) | about 10 months ago | (#46610935)

the freaking Crocks are easy as hell to replicate over and over and over. We were playing with the foam and decided to make some silicone mold's of a brand new set of crocks for my wife and I was able to make 2 more pair for her.

Shoes that are better than the crap you buy at the store are not hard to make either. Cobbling is actually pretty easy, most people can pick up the leatherworking within 30 days.

Re:You already can do shoes.. (1)

jklovanc (1603149) | about 10 months ago | (#46611023)

Shoes that are better than the crap you buy at the store are not hard to make either.

So I am going to spend thousands on tools, hundreds of material wasted learning and hundreds of hours learning a skill so I can make a pair of shoes every few years that I could buy for a couple of hundred dollars. I doubt it. And then there are the many people who have are not craft inclined and have trouble putiing a nail in the wall to hang a picture. Sorry but there is a reason everyone does not have all skills.

Crocks are crap and any decent shoe can not be 3D printed.

Cost per unit drives adoption. (1)

Moskit (32486) | about 10 months ago | (#46610941)

People (=masses, as in democracy) tend to buy from the cheapest source. A home-printed 3D object is not going to be cheaper than a mass-produced trinket imported from China, at least not for a long time.

Niche is perhaps in manufacturing specific custom shapes that cannot be satisfied by mass-manufacturing.

Interestingly enough, perhaps Apple users will be the seed market - they are people with money and willing to spend a lot on expensive novelties.

No we won't (1)

holophrastic (221104) | about 10 months ago | (#46610943)

This is all crazy stupid wrong. The only thing "new" here is the term "3D printing" itself. Commonly-available hand-tools meant that anyone could build a table in about day. Few people do. Commonly-available home power tools meant that anyone could build a nice table in about an hour. Few people do.

Right now, odds are that ten people within walking distance in your residential neighbourhood can build your dining room set for half the price that you paid. Again, you won't ask them to and they won't offer.

Society doesn't progress based on what's possible, nor based on what's easy. It progresses based on what influences individuals. Today, that's their feeling of safety. You don't want a table that won't fall apart. You want a table that someone has promised/guaranteed/warranteed won't fall apart. You want someone to sue, someone to blame, and someone who loses money when you aren't happy.

That's why distributors exist today. There's no longer an actual distribution need. Any manufacturer can easily ship your dining room set to you at way less than the cost of target's warehousing and customer service. So much so that often it's drop-shiped that way to you even when you do buy it from target. But the manufacturer doesn't want to deal with you, and target is trained to ignore you -- that's what they get paid to do. That's why they exist.

None of that changes with 3d printing. Just like it didn't with 2d printing, I'll have you note. When was the last time you heard of someone who 2d printed their own wedding invitations? Or billboards? Or big vinyl banners? Or bus bench ads? Or any reasonable number of business cards? You 2d print things today that in the past who'd have hand-written -- like mailbox ads for baby-sitters, lost dogs, and scrap metal collection. Yes, it's more convenient to 2d-print it at home than it was to hand-write it. But that's the only change.

3d printing will be the same way. If you build something today, it'll be easier to build it tomorrow. That's true of all technological advances. But if you don't make shoes today, you won't make shoes tomorrow with a 3d printer -- I promise.

Print replacement parts for obsolete/discontinued? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#46610945)

Will we ever be able to print new parts for obsolete or discontinued items no longer manufactured? Scan broken part, analyze its shape and size, and print out a new one? This could absolutely destroy the disposal economy of shoddy goods that are thrown out when broken. Often, things break that have only one tiny piece of plastic - ex: my Muvo is held together by a rubber band because the tiny plastic catch on the battery cover broke, and I once held a car door's open/close mechanism together for years with a paperclip because a tiny piece of plastic broke off. What would a world be like in which we could just print new parts?

Completely delusional (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#46610949)

We can also program all our programs if we wanted to. How many do? This 3D BS is beyond delusional. It's outright mentally ill. No one beyond a few digital artists and hobbyists will print their own shoes. No one will 3D print a house. End of story.

10 Billion People Need Large Scale Manufacturing (2)

Mr_Wisenheimer (3534031) | about 10 months ago | (#46610951)

The population of the planet is predicted to peak around 10-16 billion people. Every one of them needs a toothbrush. At some point in the distant future, resources might become so abundant that most personal property can be produced using something like Star Trek's replicator; however, not in my lifetime.

3-D printing might make more sense for some products than traditional manufacturing. If you have an old car that is long out of production, producing parts in a printer might make more sense than tooling a factory to produce a limited run of a part for an old car. Anything that people need in the millions though. . . it just does not seem economically competitive to manufacture on demand.

I do think the retail landscape will change a lot. As the negative impact of personal automobiles become more of a crisis, people will do a lot less offline shopping and will simply have products delivered. I think that manufacturing centers will spring up to produce certain goods on demand, some locally, but eventually much of that will be produced centrally too (in large factories on cheap land) and shipped out to you.

And, of course, for smaller, less complicated things, 3D printers in the home might move out of the realm of hobbyist into the mainstream, the way many people have a professional quality printer (laser or inkjet) in their home these days, but I don't see most common products being produced on demand. Large factories tooled to a specific product will still be the most efficient way to produce things on a large scale.

Tmber and Nails too ? (1)

nukenerd (172703) | about 10 months ago | (#46610959)

Timber and nails have been widely available for centuries (or millenia), but they have not put furniture factories out of business yet.

Users will be "Printer Trash" (3, Insightful)

rbrander (73222) | about 10 months ago | (#46610969)

IN THEORY, factory-manufactured homes would be this huge step forward over built-on-the-spot. Buckminster Fuller devoted endless hours to the subject, and imagined deployment by zepplin or helicopter, dropping off the whole Dymaxion House. Robert Heinlein wrote sharply about what a car would cost if GM sent a team of automobile assemblers to build it in your driveway.

IN REALITY, the cheapness was a hidden sales-killer. Only those with the tightest budgets live in manufactured homes, with their constraints on shape, their reputation for short service life, and they are disparaged as "trailer trash".

Printed alternatives for factory-made products will have some compromises. I'm not aware of an ability to print leather, so the shoes, for instance, will probably be *visibly* printed shoes that will be known to cost less...and come with a stigma because they will "look cheap". ANY kind of clothing that can be seen to be made a cheaper way will always carry a stigma. Jeans in the early 70s went quickly from being chic because they were cheap and proletarian and showed anti-consumerist, non-bourgeois "hippie" values to...designer jeans that cost as much as the most conspicuous-consumption choices.

"Conspicuous consumption" is not regarded as a moral sin until it hits truly comical levels (see, Saddam's palaces or much of the Hamptons) within its own culture. Dr. Robert Frank of Cornell has devoted a lot of study to the subject, is one of the best even-handed reads about income inequality; showing that you have a little money, or just really take pride in appearance, is not a bourgeois evil, it's a constant in every society through history. Adam Smith wrote about there being some decent level of clothing below which even a tramp would not be seen on the streets of Edinburgh...he wrote in the 1700s when that level was better than half the population could have afforded 200 years earlier, because fabric production was already much-mechanized. Whatever is the cheapest way to make anything is in any culture is always going to "look poor" and carry stigma.

Printing cups and bowls? Could do, but notice that people actually keep two sets of china? You might print the kid's tableware, but you won't put it out for guests. Might was well put out placemats with the sign "we're poor".

People spend a lot of money on: homes, cars, appliances/electronics, furniture - as capital assets. And clothing and other items much on display for status as well as use, as consumable assets. Notice that none of these things are going to be popular as home-printed products. I'll happily buy a home printer, there's loads of things they will do: a box of just the right size to fit a storage space, a replacement part. I just walked around the house and came up with the TV trays, the TV stand, my CD cases, the picture frames, bookends, and a whole lot of containers. All acceptable if plain and utilitarian. Everything else, I'd want it to look like it wasn't produced the cheapest way possible.

xtians always whine about new things (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#46610973)

Of course this will not cause any problems, but that won't stop them from trying to stop progress. We're now hearing even more whines from them about 3D printers than we heard about The Golden Compass. They hated that book and movie. Many of those xtians wasted years of their lives attacking it. I know the morons outside of the building where I work wasted three years carrying signs. Those xtians are crazy.

TFS is a troll, should have guessed (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#46610983)

About half way through TF summary the smelloscope went off. It could mean only one thing and scrolling up confirms it! More 'biggovernmentboogeyman' drivel brought to you by cold fjord.

End the suffering, stop upvoting this shit in the firehose.

Troll with epic levels of cognitive dissonance (0)

Uberbah (647458) | about 10 months ago | (#46611107)

It could mean only one thing and scrolling up confirms it! More 'biggovernmentboogeyman' drivel brought to you by cold fjord.

Yet he's a rabid NSA/Israeli/American Exceptionalist when it comes too all things big brother and military. You'd think that brownshirt of his would give him a rash when he goes into ebil gubbment mode, but cold fjord is exceptionally exceptional.

Same Old Story (1)

EmeraldBot (3513925) | about 10 months ago | (#46611047)

Ugh, we've heard this before. Remember how to internet was supposed to "revolutionize" our shopping? I don't order very much at all off the internet. Plus, 3D printing machines currently rely upon plastic. YOu can wear solid plastic shoes, but I'm not.

Wifey will... (1)

Sla$hPot (1189603) | about 10 months ago | (#46611051)

...probably use up all plastic before we get a shoe problem :/

They'll have *really* bad shoes (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#46611059)


Learn something about manufacturing and materials.

Are we forgetting the past? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#46611125)

But if history is any guide, more and more of us will soon be engaging in all sorts of other behaviors too. Making our own goods. Sharing, swapping, and engaging in peer-to-peer commerce.

We're we doing this 200-300 yrs ago... and we're doing it today. It's called living in the wild, bartering/trading, and bazaars? It's just that over the last 100yrs, we traded safety (structured economies, social law, and fairness) for those behaviors. We're now learning how to balance these behaviors as a society.... AGAIN. Nothing's changed....

Why is it of recent times, everyone has identified the "new thing, new paradigm", when it's just history repeating itself or rediscovering concepts that worked? If we keep thinking the old concepts are new, we've learned nothing and I'll be stockpiling for the next world war--cause it will happen--but maybe in cyberspace.

#irc.trooltalk.com (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#46611129)

confi8med that *BSD

All ready got it (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#46611137)

3d printers that produce cheap, flimsy plastic copies of real products? I believe it is called China.

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