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?