reply to post by benrl
3d printing is a game changer, but it isn't a threat to modern manufacturing. It's probably the salvation of American industry.
3d printing will simply displace a lot of mundane industrial tasks. You could print quality spoons, forks, and little whatchyamadiddles.
Manufacturing will pick up on the 3d printing and combine it with the 'hard' industry for reduced costs and for better versatility.
You won't be able to print your next-gen computer. You might be able to print yourself a custom case for it - but you'll still want heat sinks made
to a standard that will be difficult for a 3d printer to produce - silicon lithography (or some of the more crazy semiconductor technologies on the
fringes of our current understanding of quantum mechanics) will still require machines that far exceed the capabilities of a home or even commercial
Any advantage 3d printing gives an individual - it gives larger manufacturers.
One of the more exciting things is what could be done with 'cloud factories.' You have a 3d printer at home. You may use it once or twice a week,
unless you're an enthusiast or it is required for your profession. If you would make parts for me, I will pay you to cover materials, electricity,
and shipping charges with added profit for you. What do you say?
If anyone should be worried about that technology - it would be the developing countries (China, India, etc) who still utilize cheap industrial labor
as their economic backbone.
Ultimately - the technology will end up being a good thing. It just has different implications to different societies with different economic trends.
The developing nations are going to have to bootstrap themselves using those machines - while developed nations would be reclaiming their displaced
I'm a bit skeptical about the fusion claim, though. I'm sure we'll make some advancements, but I think the real "game changer" for fusion
hasn't been developed yet. I think Dense Plasma Focus holds the most promise - but represents the vacuum tube of fusion. I'm more partial to a
form of crystalline fusion that would offer much greater conversion rates while being able to replace a AA battery. But that's still something of a