Dis­rup­tive Tech­nol­ogy

How is 3D print­ing dis­rupt­ing tra­di­tional in­dus­tries?

Arabnet - The Quarterly - - Content -

We ex­plore how 3D print­ing is dis­rupt­ing tra­di­tional in­dus­tries

News broke on May 8 of Yoshit­omo Imura, a 27-year-old man from Ja­pan, who got ar­rested for il­le­gally print­ing and pos­sess­ing guns. Back in April, po­lice had found five plas­tic guns and a 3D printer at the sus­pect’s home, along with blue­prints for man­u­fac­tur­ing guns stored on his per­sonal com­puter. Two of th­ese guns were able to pierce over ten pieces of ply­wood, which deems them ca­pa­ble of killing or wound­ing peo­ple. The sus­pect, a col­lege em­ployee, was quoted as say­ing, “but, I didn’t know they were il­le­gal.”

Imura’s claim that he was un­aware of a law against print­ing guns is very likely to be gen­uine. It is not com­mon for new con­sumer tech­nolo­gies to come into con­flict with the law or even re­quire new leg­is­la­tion al­to­gether. But for those that do, it is a def­i­nite sign of the mag­ni­tude of their dis­rup­tive po­ten­tial. Be­yond se­cu­rity and legal is­sues, what are some of the im­pli­ca­tions of 3D print­ing on tra­di­tional in­dus­tries? Be­fore we get into that, let’s take a quick look at some of the daz­zling re­cent ap­pli­ca­tions of 3D print­ing.

ED­I­BLE MA­TE­RI­ALS At South by South­west In­ter­ac­tive, global snacks com­pany Mon­delez In­ter­na­tional part­nered with Twit­ter for the Oreo Trend­ing Vend­ing Ma­chine. Event at­ten­dees were able to sa­vor the beloved cookie in a va­ri­ety of fla­vors styled us­ing 3D print­ing ma­chines. The fla­vors are based on trend­ing top­ics that fol­lowed the hash­tag #eatthetweet.

A num­ber of com­pa­nies are al­ready busy testing out how this tech­nol­ogy could change the way we pre­pare food. Al­ready avail­able are food prin­ters for choco­late, pizza, ravi­oli, chick­pea nuggets, corn chips, and sugar candies. One of the most fa­mous ma­chines, the Foo­d­ini, lets users print any­thing they want pro­vided it can be pureed first.

SOFT MA­TE­RI­ALS Carnegie Mel­lon Uni­ver­sity and Dis­ney Re­search Pitts­burgh have in­vented a 3D print­ing tech­nique for cre­at­ing soft in­ter­ac­tive ob­jects, like plush an­i­mals. The printer uses a nee­dle to turn lay­ers of wool yarn into loose felt ob­jects. The de­vice looks like a cross be­tween a 3D printer and a sewing ma­chine. It is ca­pa­ble of pro­duc­ing ap­parel and ac­ces­sories such as scarves, hats, and even teddy bears. But more im­por­tantly, it might also be used in the near fu­ture to pro­duce parts of so-called “soft ro­bots”–ro­bots de­signed to touch or be near peo­ple.

In ‘tra­di­tional’ 3D print­ing, melted plas­tic is ex­truded in a thin line and laid out in a layer; sub­se­quent lay­ers are added to achieve the ob­ject’s de­sired shape, with the lay­ers ad­her­ing to each other as the plas­tic cools. In this ex­am­ple, how­ever, the printer’s head feeds out yarn in­stead of lines of melted plas­tic. Then, a barbed felt­ing nee­dle at­tached to the printer’s head re­peat­edly pierces the yarn, en­tan­gling the fibers and bond­ing the lay­ers to­gether. The printer doesn’t achieve the same di­men­sional ac­cu­racy as con­ven­tional 3D prin­ters be­cause the yarn is much thicker than the lay­ers of plas­tic. How­ever, like other 3D prin­ters, this ma­chine uses com­put­er­ized de­signs to make 3D ob­jects. Thus, it can be used for rapid pro­to­typ­ing and cus­tomiz­ing of ob­jects.

FULL-SIZED HOUSES Chi­nese com­pany Win Sun claimed that it was able to print 10 bun­ga­lows in 24 hours us­ing gi­ant 3D prin­ters and a quick dry­ing con­crete mix­ture com­posed of waste ma­te­ri­als. Each bun­ga­low cost less than five thou­sand dol­lars. The task re­quired four huge prin­ters mea­sur­ing 32 me­ters in length, 10 me­ters in width, and 6.6 me­ters in height.

The com­pany hopes that one day it will be able to use the same tech­nique to con­struct sky­scrapers and vil­las.

ELEC­TRON­ICS Project Ara, the mod­u­lar smart­phone con­ceived by Dave Hakkens and later picked up by Mo­torola and Google, is said to rely on 3D print­ing. 3D Sys­tems, the com­pany tasked with pro­duc­ing Ara’s tiles, re­cently an­nounced that it is “cre­at­ing a con­tin­u­ous, high-speed 3D print­ing pro­duc­tion plat­form and ful­fill­ment sys­tem to ac­com­mo­date pro­duc­tion-level speeds and vol­ume.”

PEO­PLE MINIA­TURES imakr.com is an on­line store that sells a wide range of 3D prin­ters and ma­te­ri­als, 3D art, and 3D scan­ners. imakr also op­er­ates one of the world’s largest 3D print­ing stores, lo­cated in Cen­tral Lon­don. Among the popular cre­ations of imakr are 3D minia­tures of peo­ple. The process in­volves hav­ing a per­son’s por­trait dig­i­tally scanned in their 360 de­gree

scan­ning booth to cap­ture the per­son’s like­ness with amaz­ing ac­cu­racy and de­tail. The printed 3D ob­ject comes in full color.

MAKEUP Mink is a new 3D printer for makeup that was in­tro­duced at the Techcrunch Dis­rupt NY 2014. Fash­ion­istas can choose any color they like on the web or in the real world and, us­ing sim­ple al­ready-ex­ist­ing soft­ware, the lit­tle printer can print that color into a blush, and later into eye shadow, lip gloss, and any other type of makeup. Priced at less than $200 with plans to launch in 2014, Mink will al­low cus­tomers to pre­pare their own makeup from the com­fort of their home.

LIVING OR­GAN­ISMS A San Diego-based bio print­ing com­pany called Organovo ex­pects to un­veil the world’s first printed or­gan next year. Sim­i­lar to other types of 3D print­ing, bio print­ing lay­ers ma­te­rial to form an ob­ject. In this case the lay­ers are made up of live cells, and the ob­ject is an or­gan. How­ever, the prob­lem has been man­u­fac­tur­ing the vas­cu­lar sys­tem needed to keep the or­gan alive. Cells would die as soon as they leave the print­ing ta­ble. Organovo is said to have fig­ured out a way to over­come the is­sue and was able to main­tain liver tis­sue in a fully func­tional state for at least 40 days. It is im­por­tant to note that the pro­duced or­gans will serve for drug testing and lab­o­ra­tory stud­ies. The com­pany is yet to re­lease any info on im­plantable or­gans.

WHAT DOES THIS EN­TAIL FOR TRA­DI­TIONAL IN­DUS­TRIES? 3D print­ing de­moc­ra­tizes the cre­ation of phys­i­cals goods. Mak­ing prod­ucts won’t be re­stricted to large man­u­fac­tur­ers any­more. Any­one with a ma­chine at home will be able to pro­duce prod­ucts. This is made pos­si­ble with the re­lease of more af­ford­able 3D prin­ters in the mar­ket. Just re­cently, The Mi­cro, a $299 3D printer passed $3.5M on Kick­starter. Its goal was 50K. The Peachy Printer, an­other Kick­starter project, goes for as low as $100. And there are plenty more, as listed in the side fea­ture. This will mean that the pur­chas­ing dy­namic will dras­ti­cally change. In some in­stances, buy­ers will pay for raw ma­te­ri­als and de­sign files or soft­ware for the ob­ject they are look­ing to pur­chase. Imag­ine what down­load­ing a recipe could mean then.

This won’t mean that man­u­fac­tur­ers will lose their jobs. For the fore­see­able fu­ture, man­u­fac­tur­ing will be­come more flex­i­ble as man­u­fac­tur­ers will be able to es­tab­lish fac­to­ries much closer to points of sales. This might oc­cur even if the cost per unit should in­crease for ob­jects that tra­di­tion­ally ben­e­fited from scale ef­fi­cien­cies of large, cen­tral­ized plants. The off­set from re­duced ship­ping costs and main­tain­ing large in­ven­to­ries could tip the scales fa­vor­able for cer­tain in­dus­tries.

This also means that goods can be more eas­ily cus­tom­ized to in­di­vid­ual buy­ers’ whims. Chang­ing the de­sign of a chair would sim­ply en­tail a mi­nor ad­just­ment in the de­sign file. The op­tions are un­lim­ited, and we only have to sit and ob­serve how 3D tech­nol­ogy changes our lives. Just like the In­ter­net did, and the com­puter be­fore it.

3D printer ma­chine used to print cus­tom­ized oreo cook­ies at South by South­west In­ter­ac­tive.

Food printed by the Foo­d­ini ma­chine. Mink is a 3D printer for makeup.

3D printed teddy bears from Dis­ney Re­search.

Chi­nese com­pany Win Sun was able to print 10 con­crete houses in 1 day. Photo credit: Dailymail.co.uk

Mod­u­lar smart­phone build­ing re­lies on 3D print­ing.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Lebanon

© PressReader. All rights reserved.