ED SAYS

DEMM Engineering & Manufacturing - - CONTENTS - Steve Hart, Edi­tor. edi­tor@demm.co.nz

The fu­ture of man­u­fac­tur­ing should be on all our minds – to­day more than ever be­fore. You see, I be­lieve we are head­ing into a pe­riod of tran­si­tion. In fact, we might al­ready be there.

As you may have no­ticed, DEMM has been cov­er­ing the de­vel­op­ments of 3D print­ing for quite some months. Two years ago I started say­ing to friends that it will even­tu­ally turn man­u­fac­tur­ing and pro­to­typ­ing on its head. I fig­ured back then ‘we’ had at least 10 years be­fore any­thing dra­matic would hap­pen.

But here we are in 2014 with ob­jects such as cus­tom-made horse­shoes be­ing printed us­ing ti­ta­nium. From plas­tics, to metals and hu­man cells, noth­ing seems to be be­yond the reach of the 3D printer. In this edi­tion, we even fea­ture a ma­chine that can fab­ri­cate a mul­ti­colour ob­ject in one go.

The im­pli­ca­tions are huge and wide rang­ing. It could also be dev­as­tat­ing to tra­di­tional man­u­fac­tur­ing. You want a hard-to-find part for an old ma­chine or vin­tage car? No wor­ries, you can print one. Need a spe­cial tool to make a part? You can print that too.

In the same way that desk­top pub­lish­ing caused dis­ar­ray in the print in­dus­try in the 80s, and in the same way that the in­ter­net knocked news­pa­pers for six in the 90s, so shall 3D print­ing im­pact man­u­fac­tur­ing. All one can do is em­brace and adopt it when the op­por­tu­nity pre­sents it­self.

Mean­while, what are our ed­u­ca­tional in­sti­tu­tions do­ing to give our up and com­ing en­gi­neers the skills and ex­pe­ri­ence to un­der­stand and work with 3D tech­nol­ogy?

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