Now, here’s something that you mightn’t of heard of, 3D printing, or what the industry likes to call Additive layer manufacturing.
In this second of three posts about business, I’ve collected a few articles on what The Economist is calling, A third industrial revolution. Back in a December 2011 issue the magazine reviewed the 2011 EuroMold show in The Shape of things to come. In this article they interviewed a number of British companies, which is encouraging.
The process of prototyping, the refining of a product idea, till the ideal design is found, is a lengthy and expensive process. 3D Printing means dramatic reductions in both the time and cost of prototyping.
3D printing technology is being brought into schools in California. As the cost of these printers reduces they’ll soon be available for home use. There are applications for 3D printing such as being able to design and make your own furniture. If, supposedly, we’re good at innovation and design, then this is something we should too consider bringing into our schools and colleges.
This is an exciting new industry that combines Computer Aided Design directly to the manufacturing process. For an island always reluctant to see its green spaces occupied by factories or shopping developments, this is a small footprint industry ideally suited to our national needs. We need to promote this technology to recover lost manufacturing capability to overseas companies. Shane Richmond reports in his Daily Telegraph article, 3D printing: the technology that could re-shape the world, that students at Greenwich-based Ravensbourne have access to the technology.
The Financial Times, in 3D Printing: The rise of the machines, writes that new robotic and automated manufacturing technologies have serious implications for low-cost labour manufacturing in China, concluding the article,
“Low-cost production techniques could soon become so advanced and so low cost — thanks to developments like 3D printing — that even the tiniest salaries in Africa will not make it worthwhile to employ human beings at all.”