NYT on 3D printing

The NYT covers 3D printing, from the Makerbot and textile printers to custom prosthetic limbs to a mighty house-printer:
A California start-up is even working on building houses. Its printer, which would fit on a tractor-trailer, would use patterns delivered by computer, squirt out layers of special concrete and build entire walls that could be connected to form the basis of a house.

It is manufacturing with a mouse click instead of hammers, nails and, well, workers. Advocates of the technology say that by doing away with manual labor, 3-D printing could revamp the economics of manufacturing and revive American industry as creativity and ingenuity replace labor costs as the main concern around a variety of goods.

"There is nothing to be gained by going overseas except for higher shipping charges," Mr. Summit said.

3-D Printing Spurs a Manufacturing Revolution (Thanks, Joeross, via Submitterator!)


  1. OOk.. so. I thought this was pretty cool stuff. But after reading this, it’s yet another innovation that destroys a job industry? ugh

  2. I’m a big fan of STL. I’m working on my first prototype design at work and while the model shop has a lead time of ~ 30 days for machined parts, I can get a 3D model made in a matter of hours at about 1/4 of the cost of machined.
    The nice thing is it allows me to try different iterations of a design; I’m now purposely planning on having a majority of the parts made this way for ease of replacement.
    I’d recommend looking into LENS systems, too…

  3. increase production capacity without increasing the number of jobs, and they expect to find buyers for their products where exactly?

    The basic problem is that money needs to flow, not stagnate on some trust fund aristocrats account.

    1. It’s hardly an increase in production capacity. 3D printers are slow and thus expensive so they are useless for mass production. (in the time you’ve printed one doorknob, a commercial molding machine can produce a thousand) They shine at artisanal one-off tasks because they lack the huge startup costs of industrial manufacturing. (making the mold for making a doorknob and putting in in the machine can easily cost $1000)

      1. dunno, if one could change the print head from laying a single strand of material to laying whole surfaces (much like how a laser printer prints a whole line at a time) the speed of a 3d printer would go up drastically.

        The problem however is not how effective the machine is, but how many workers it displaces. This specifically as the money cycle goes something like “worker/customer > company > worker/customer”. The contemporary word consumer masks the relationship the workforce have with the vitality of the economy.

      2. I think your right for now but the industry is making machines that can print 30 door knobs or more at a time.

  4. Neither off-shore manufacturing nor on-shore automation will do a damn thing to make unskilled American workers productive enough to compete. Only desperation will make the average American overcome their anti-intellectual attitude to enough to go back to school and get some skilz.

    The skilled workers will almost always find a new niche that is rewarding. Though in times like these it could take much too long.

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