Does 3D Printing Threaten Traditional Manufacturing?
Someday soon you may be able to create replicas of 3D objects by taking their photo and feeding the data to your at-home printer. Will that be the end of the manufacturing-based economy?
What's the Latest Development?
When a Google executive once described 3D printers as having a China on your desktop, the reference was likely made to the country's manufacturing capabilities, not its tendency to violate copyright protections. Yet some worry that at-home printing technology, combined with software that makes blueprints from scans of 3D objects, may threaten the age-old economic arrangement whereby manufactures sell goods to customers. Imagine using your smartphone to snap a picture of a lamp you like from a local shop, then feeding that photo into your 3D printer and voila! Out comes your new lamp.
What's the Big Idea?
The technology needed to make perfect copies of 3D objects by taking photos of them has not been perfected, though the app currently sells for .69 cents. But manufacturers may be worse off for that. Neil Gershenfeld, head of the Center for Bits and Atoms at MIT, said that traditional manufacturers currently treat 3D printers like toys. "By the time they are threatened," says Gershenfeld, "it’ll be too late." Dr Adrian Bowyer, maker of the RepRap printer, has published the designs for his machine, hoping to prevent a societal division between 3D printer "have" and "have nots".
Photo credit: Shutterstock.com
Jonathan Zimmerman explains why teachers should invite, not censor, tough classroom debates.
- During times of war or national crisis in the U.S., school boards and officials are much more wary about allowing teachers and kids to say what they think.
- If our teachers avoid controversial questions in the classroom, kids won't get the experience they need to know how to engage with difficult questions and with criticism.
- Jonathan Zimmerman argues that controversial issues should be taught in schools as they naturally arise. Otherwise kids will learn from TV news what politics looks like – which is more often a rant than a healthy debate.
Controversial map names CEOs of 100 companies producing 71 percent of the world's greenhouse gas emissions.
- Just 100 companies produce 71 percent of the world's greenhouse gases.
- This map lists their names and locations, and their CEOs.
- The climate crisis may be too complex for these 100 people to solve, but naming and shaming them is a good start.
It marks another milestone in SpaceX's long-standing effort to make spaceflight cheaper.
- SpaceX launched Falcon Heavy into space early Tuesday morning.
- A part of its nosecone – known as a fairing – descended back to Earth using special parachutes.
- A net-outfitted boat in the Atlantic Ocean successfully caught the reusable fairing, likely saving the company millions of dollars.
SMARTER FASTER trademarks owned by The Big Think, Inc. All rights reserved.