Vance, A., (2010). “3-D Printing Spurs a Manufacturing Revolution.“ New York Times Online. Retrieved on October 6, 2010: http://www.nytimes.com/2010/09/14/technology/14print.html
Vance highlights the remarkable impact and wide application 3-D printing has on a wide range of traditional and non-traditional manufacturing industries.
While traditional printers print on one dimensional paper, 3-D printers create a 3-dimensional physical object, usually from plastic or metal, by stacking layers one on top of another. The application of 3-D printers spans a wide variety of applications: from custom made prosthetic casings to building houses, and literally anything in-between. It may very well hold the promise of a game-changing technology for the US manufacturing industry in that the cheap labor may no longer be the “be-all” important factor it is today.
While the application of technology in design and manufacturing hardly is a new phenomenon, the scale, ease of use and its wide application do provide something of a paradigm shift in a cross-section of manufacturing industries. In tomorrow’s 3-D printing world, yesteryears chasm between conceptual design and manufacturing is a non-existing obstacle. In this new 3-D printing world the virtual product concept conceived by the product creator and the material manifestation of her/his creation are literally mere mouse-clicks apart, thus creating not only whole new time-to-market expectations, but new market economic models.
3-D printer programs aim at putting a giant short-cut between the creation and manufacturing processes, such that the chasm that used to exist between the two are virtually eliminated. There are literally limitless application possibilities for this technology, so fasten your seat belts – it’s going to be a fast and exciting ride!
Welcome to the world of manufacturing by mouse-clicks and machines rather than tradition manual labor. In this new 3-D Printing world the computer and its virtual creation is the competitive advantage in the manufacturing process rather than low cost labor. And, therein represents the game changing nature of this new technology that may prove transformational to whole societies.
The adaptation and use of 3-D printing technologies is developing extremely rapidly within all areas of manufacturing. Although the interface designs are as varied as its industry application, the requirements for a successful design are the same as any other product ‘user’s love’, thus the look and feel need to be based on a carefully crafted conceptual and interaction design foundation, and without this foundation, it’s like putting lipstick on a pig!