The Future of 3D Printing
Alice Taylor, Founder/CEO Makie Lab, @wonderlandblog
Avi Reichental, CEO 3D Systems
Rich Brown, Senior Editor CNET, @Richard_H_Brown
Scott Summit, Founder/CTO 3D Systems/Bespoke Products, @BespokeInc
·      Makie: Customized doll factory. Have an iPad app now.
·      Prosthetic Legs: Scan existing leg to make a new leg that makes the contours of existing.
·      3D Systems: range of printers from consumer end $1,300 Cube printer to many hundreds of thousands.
·      At the consumer end, can make entry level, basic plastic stuff.
·      The Diamond Age by Neal Stephenson
o   Everyone has a terminal in their house, and nanobots come flooding in and make whatever you want.
·      NASA using metal printing for a rocket to go to mars
·      Voxel printing: using multiple materials. Objects made of tiny parts.
·      Fabricated: The New World of 3D Printing
o   Plug for this book
·      What are the opportunities for small businesses?
·      What are the IP related concerns?
·      What can we do with this?
·      What are the opportunities?
o   Reichental:
§  Endless
§  What is today…
·      Every hearing aid device is 3D printed
·      Many dental implants are planned
·      Many parts on drones are printed
·      Aircraft parts are being printed
o   Every F18 has about 90 printed parts
§  The possibilities
·      Localization of production
§  The gamechanger is that every company, from a garage startup to the biggest corporation, has access to the same level of 3d printing technology.
o   Taylor:
§  Started from videogame industry
§  Wanted to make video assets into products
§  First idea was to print avatars
o   Summit
§  The things that kill startups, compared to a big company are:
·      Time to market
·      Up front costs
·      Inventory costs
§  With a 3D printing business model, these costs become irrelevant.
§  Hardware plays become more like software plays. There’s just the time investment to build models. You can be more nimble.
o   Taylor:
§  It’s product on demand.
o   Reichental:
§  In addition to democratization
§  Printer doesn’t care if it is printing complex object versus simple product.
§  Almost no waste
§  Very little energy
§  Printed locally
§  Millions can design for themselves
·      Is it about consumer, medical, military – where’s the biggest use?
o   Reichental: We can’t even convince of all the opportunities ahead of us.
o   Summit:
§  We don’t think of ourselves as a medical company. We see ourselves as a fashion company, we just happen to make body parts.
§  Everything we do is a unique instantiation. Nothing is mass produced.
§  You can’t peg it as a medical product, as a fashion product. It’s a blurring of what exists.
·      Intellectual Property
o   Yoda is a copyrighted character.
o   But he’s up there on thingiverse for free.
o   Taylor: he’s a popular calibration item.
o   Is there a danger?
§  Taylor:
·      As Tim O’Reilly says, the biggest problem is obscurity, not piracy.
·      Is Disney’s bottom line adversely affected by someone printing a Yoda?
o   No
§  Summit:
·      In traditional manufacturing, as soon as you take your designs to Asia to be manufactured, you’ve lost your IP anyway.
§  Taylor:
·      People who are going to print stuff at home, they are creative. They make an ecosystem around a product.
·      When we make clothes for our dolls, we put the patterns up on the forum. Then our customers remix/improve them.
§  Summit:
·      It increases the engagement with the user.
§  Reichental:
·      The IP system today is antiquated. It doesn’t reflect the power of the crowd, or new monetization strategies, or what is possible today, or what new, nimble startups do.
·      Consumer 3D Printing
o   MakerBot 1: completely open source.
o   Failed kickstarter project to make a cheaper copy using open source plans.
o   MakerBot 2: using some closed source.
·      SLA: liquid, SLS: powder, FDM: extrusion. About 9 different mechanisms.
·      How do we move 3D printing forward?
o   Reichental
§  MakerBot came from the red rock project in Bristol. It started with the heart of democratization.
§  There are now 60 companies around the world making something like the original makerbot.
§  But that’s replication, not innovation.
·      They’re recreating what is, not insightfully rearranging, originating.
§  Innovative companies are not blocked by patents. They innovative around them, and come up with better products.
§  I sympathize with any projects for democratization, but I think we should design something innovative.
o   Taylor
§  Now we have 50 different FDM makers, and it’s bringing down price, and building up the ecosystems around the materials: sparkly plastics, wood filament, etc.
§  That’s for FDM, which was open source.
§  For SLA/SLS, which it is locked up by patents, we don’t see the same price and materials advantages.
§  The powder we use to print the dolls hasn’t been democratized. So we have 70 euros a kilo, whereas the ABS that goes into Makerbots is 5 euros a kilo.
·      Reichental: We’ll help you with that.
·      3D printing for social good
o   Solar powered printed that makes glass from sand.
o   Product to grind up plastic and turn it back into filament.
§  Happy meal toys and milk jugs go in the top, and useable raw material comes out the bottom.
o   On the flip side, the Defense Distributed people are making weapons.
§  They don’t want the government to regulate anything.
o   What do you guys think of this responsibility?
§  Taylor:
·      I’m a little ignorant of gun regulation, thanks to being British.
·      For at least a decade, it’s going to be easier to buy a gun than to print one. It’s not a practical threat in the next ten years. More practical threats is gun trading.
·      It’s a decoy in a way to get media riled up.
o   Modern Meadow: Wants to print leather and edible meat.
§  Environmental benefits.
o   Summit
§  This is a tool for a creative person to have their imagination come to life.
§  This is a basic good.
§  A parent can give their kid a 3D printer instead of a game system.
§  Kids will take this and learn this. They’ll going beyond the $300 printer into SLS and cloud printer, and they’ll be an amazing innovator by the time they are in college.
§  It could be a real rebirth of innovation.
o   Reichental
§  Let’s give kids the opportunity to be creative
§  For hundreds of years, publishing was under the control of a few.
§  Then the internet changed all that, and now anyone can communicate.
·      Q: Materials?
o   Taylor
§  Used off the shelf.
§  Not a lot available now.
§  It could take another 15 years before everything the science fiction writers say comes true
o   Reichental
§  We have more than 100 materials in our portfolio
·      Wax: for customization of jewelry
·      Biologically compatible materials
·      Compostics
·      6 different metal alloys
·      nylons and plastics
·      Q: 3D printing electronics?
o   Taylor:
§  Already happening in british universities, must be elsewhere.
§  Possible to print circuitry into the material, but still under development.
o   Reichental
§  Built an airplane without any flaps, with circuitry inside to change shape of wings.
§  4D printing will be 3D printing with functionality.
§  5D printing will be dynamic rearrangement of materials.