Quick, Read this Post on 3D Printing Before It's Out of Date

The field of 3D printing is advancing rapidly due to a convergence of technologies, or what might be called "a perfect storm."

"For anyone who has ever written a book on technology," the science writer Melba Kurman tells Big Think, "one of the biggest struggles is 12 months after you start." You may have finished your book, but by then it’s already a little bit passé. Kurman, the co-author, along with Hod Lipson, of Fabricated: The New World of 3D Printing, says this problem is particularly true in the rapidly developing field of additive manufacturing, or 3D printing.


"The technology is moving at an accelerated pace" Kurman says, "not just because it’s reaching a point where things are starting to tip over into mainstream use, but 3-D printing is essentially what you could call a platform technology."

So what you have is a convergence of technologies, or what Kurman calls a perfect storm:

If you think about all the forces that are starting to now accelerate the technological advancement, we’ve got ever-improving design software. We've got shrinking components, electronic components so these printers themselves are getting cheaper and cheaper and smaller. And then of course we have the Internet and then rapidly improving materials. So when you put all of these things together it creates a perfect storm. And then 3-D printing as a platform technology starts to drag everything else with it.

And so a good way to think (and talk) about rapid innovation is to use the phrase that it’s been 'worn smooth by a million tongues.' In other words, you need to consider all the forces that are surrounding 3-D printing, Kurman says, "not just the technology but also all of the sorts of playful and innovative business models and applications people are doing." This kind of activity is similar to the level of innovation swirling around the app market for iPhones. "People are just making things move faster and faster and faster," Kurman says. "So trying to catch 3-D printing in a moment of time means that once you’ve managed to catch your moment in time, you’re already at that point obsolete."

Image courtesy of Shutterstock

3D printing might save your life one day. It's transforming medicine and health care.

What can 3D printing do for medicine? The "sky is the limit," says Northwell Health researcher Dr. Todd Goldstein.

Northwell Health
Sponsored by Northwell Health
  • Medical professionals are currently using 3D printers to create prosthetics and patient-specific organ models that doctors can use to prepare for surgery.
  • Eventually, scientists hope to print patient-specific organs that can be transplanted safely into the human body.
  • Northwell Health, New York State's largest health care provider, is pioneering 3D printing in medicine in three key ways.
Keep reading Show less

Beyond Meat announces plan to sell ‘ground beef’ in stores. Shares skyrocket.

Beyond Beef sizzles and marbleizes just like real beef, Beyond Meat says.

Culture & Religion
  • Shares of Beyond Meat opened at around $200 on Tuesday morning, falling to nearly $170 by the afternoon.
  • Wall Street analysts remain wary of the stock, which has been on a massive hot streak since its IPO in May.
  • Beyond Meat faces competition from Impossible Foods and, as of this week, Tyson.
Keep reading Show less

Thumbs up? Map shows Europe’s hitchhiking landscape

Average waiting time for hitchhikers in Ireland: Less than 30 minutes. In southern Spain: More than 90 minutes.

Image: Abel Suyok
Strange Maps
  • A popular means of transportation from the 1920s to the 1980s, hitchhiking has since fallen in disrepute.
  • However, as this map shows, thumbing a ride still occupies a thriving niche – if at great geographic variance.
  • In some countries and areas, you'll be off the street in no time. In other places, it's much harder to thumb your way from A to B.
Keep reading Show less

Can you guess which state has the most psychopaths?

A recent study used data from the Big Five personality to estimate psychopathy prevalence in the 48 contiguous states and Washington, D.C.

Surprising Science
  • The study estimated psychopathy prevalence by looking at the prevalence of certain traits in the Big Five model of personality.
  • The District of Columbia had the highest prevalence of psychopathy, compared to other areas.
  • The authors cautioned that their measurements were indirect, and that psychopathy in general is difficult to define precisely.
Keep reading Show less