Friday, February 11, 2011

how 3-d printing may revolutionize manufacturing and have major social implications

feb 12th, 2011

the end of 'satanic mills'? this could be a disruptive technology.

the implications are enormous: mass customization will be easier, and, perhaps more importantly, people don't all need to migrate to cities to be in enormous factories.

that might well be the end-run in my ongoing debate with san et al about the desirability of urban migration. if you can sit in a village and still manufacture, why would you go to cities and create ghettos? 

my personal belief is that cities above a certain size, say that of san francisco or boston, are beginning to be counterproductive, despite all the various charms of urban living. the cost of sustaining large cities -- eg. their subway systems -- is enormous.


san said...

lol, I'm very glad to see you speaking in support of this technology, which I find to be very disruptive, economical and eco-friendly.

I recall you told me once about how as a kid you knew a handyman who could fashion anything for you in short order.

Well, imagine a world where large trucks aren't barreling down the road to ship all kinds of goods to stores which no longer have to maintain large inventories of every item. Instead, those stores can simply print out products on demand. The only thing that trucks would have to deliver to stores are raw materials in powdered form.

This would mean much less need for trucking and transport, and a much more efficient economy consuming far less fuel/energy.

People would be able to manufacture all sorts of sophisticated items without needing sophisticated mass-production assembly lines. Capital costs would be reduced, and the entry barrier to manufacturing would be lowered. Just like how PCs and printers ushered in the desktop publishing revolution, likewise PCs and 3D printers could usher in a home engineering/manufacturing revolution.

san said...

Oh, and consider that it's this type of approach to manufacturing that could allow India to defeat reigning champ China, and unseat it from its throne. A technology like rapid prototyping would favour individual-oriented societies over ones that demand conformity and worker-ants.