Posts Tagged ‘3D Printing’
Woman gets 3D printed jaw

Boingboing highlighted this example of technological change:

Woman’s infected jaw removed, 3D printed replacement implanted

An 83-year-old woman with a badly infected lower jaw had the entire thing replaced with a 3D printed titanium/bioceramic replica….One day later the lady could start talking and swallowing.

Cheap 3D Printing

$500 for a fully functioning 3D printer!  I paid more than that for a fax machine 10 years ago. If the $500 machine is a bit industrial for your taste, How about this one?

3D printing technology is on the cusp of  a mass market breakout. When the technology comes of age it will revolutionise society. It will restructure industries and change the pattern of global trade.

Sure 3D printers are simplistic at the moment. Just as an old dot matrix printer was simplistic compared to the colour lazer printers we get now for less money. These things can change fast.

3D printing represents the end point of the trend toward niche manufacturing. So much for much of the existing manufacturing sectors around the world. New products and new materials will blossom once there are enough 3D machines in operation to really stimulate demand.

How long will much of the retail sector last when hit by both the internet and home manufacturing? Not to mention inventory parts and supply. You meed something, you simply print it off.

The Microsoft Kinnect was the fastest selling home electronics product. People are already hacking it to create 3D images and displays. How soon before people have an accurate image of themselves as their avatar and use it to try on new clothes or fashion accessories?

There is a wonderful future waiting for us once the global economic reset is behind us – if we are able to put it behind us peacefully.

Technological transformation

It’s no secret to anyone who has read much of this site that the author has been profoundly pessimistic about the ability of the West to avoid a depression, possibly the Greatest Depression. But finally we have reason to hope. It’s a long shot, but worth outlining.

Before charging ahead, let’s remind ourselves of a central aspect of the problems faced by the West. In a nut shell, too  much has been promised to too many. Society will not be able to deliver. You know the sort of stuff:

  • Retire thirty years before you will probably die
  • Don’t enter the workforce for the first twenty something years of your life.
  • Free health care
  • Generous public service pensions
  • Small numbers of students in classrooms
  • Repay government debt and take on debt of the politically connected vested interests
  • Government housing, income support, child allowances…etc.

Absent something miraculous on the productivity front there are not going to be enough workers per dependent person. Top and tailing peoples working life, while not having as many new workers entering the workforce as those retiring is not a sensible societal option. Having large numbers of unemployed people will exasperate the problem.  Sorry to disappoint those getting all worked up in the US, but sacking a few public servants and selling some assets to the politically connected at below market rates will not fix things. Neither will pandering to government employees and union heavies. You have been consuming more than you produced, hence the growth in debt without associated growth in production. Repaying the debt or even stopping the growth of debt will require a reduction in consumption. In real terms your GDP will fall. It will shrink down to a level from which healthy growth can occur. In fact it will probably overshoot this level. Prepare for a significant fall in your living standards as it is almost inevitable.

Sure people have made decisions and lived their life in part based on the false promises of politicians of all political persuasions. They will be unhappy when they discover the reality of their situation.  They will look for someone to blame. People will try and focus this anger on targets that suit them. There could be social strife across the West such as has not been seen since 1848. But I digress. This is a post of hope. What could change this pessimistic prognosis?

The most obvious answer is something miraculous on the productivity front. Well we have seen signs of that with Additive Layer Manufacturing and 3D printing type technology reaching the tipping point where it may start being rolled out en mass. If you are not aware of the potential for 3D printing have a look at:

More links on 3D printing here.

The technology has the potential to transform much of the manufacturing, retail and distribution sectors of the economy. The technology is developing rapidly and will no doubt be another example of technology experiencing exponential rates of improvement.  Moore’s law does seem broadly applicable as Ray Kurzweil has demonstrated. I recommend watching the Transcendent man which can be downloaded here for US$14.99.

The Transcendent man raises the specter of artificial intelligence. It too will no doubt come into being. But perhaps not as soon as Mr Kurzweil predicts. Until then 3D printing and other power related technological improvements may provide the productivity increases necessary for denizens of the West to live in the style to which they have become accustomed. There are grounds for hope.

These types of advances are some of the reasons why life will get better manifesting themselves.