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?
§ 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.
§ Started from videogame industry
§ Wanted to make video assets into products
§ First idea was to print avatars
§ 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.
§ It’s product on demand.
§ 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.
§ 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?
· As Tim O’Reilly says, the biggest problem is obscurity, not piracy.
· Is Disney’s bottom line adversely affected by someone printing a Yoda?
· In traditional manufacturing, as soon as you take your designs to Asia to be manufactured, you’ve lost your IP anyway.
· 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.
· It increases the engagement with the user.
· 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?
§ 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.
§ 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?
· 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.
§ 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.
§ 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?
§ Used off the shelf.
§ Not a lot available now.
§ It could take another 15 years before everything the science fiction writers say comes true
§ We have more than 100 materials in our portfolio
· Wax: for customization of jewelry
· Biologically compatible materials
· 6 different metal alloys
· nylons and plastics
· Q: 3D printing electronics?
§ Already happening in british universities, must be elsewhere.
§ Possible to print circuitry into the material, but still under development.
§ 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.