Will 3-D printing launch a new industrial revolution?


Joined Apr 30, 2011
I've been watching this technology for a while now so I'll add a couple of observations. First, the printed resolution is in part determined by material properties since the materials have to be bonded by some means to previous layers. Second, one of the most intriguing capabilities of the technology is the creation of engineered voids and inclusions in a body.

The Atlantic Council report is linked below:

Thread Starter


Joined Mar 24, 2008
While it is no where near a Star Trek type replicator, it is a step in that direction.

Add the possibility of organic ink jet graphics making custom transistors and LEDs and it does get interesting.


Joined Oct 22, 2011
iv got one.. on order:p
reprappro huxley.. prints pla filament, should be pretty good! only downside is its pretty small.. however my A3 cnc can be run by the electronics;)
can you see where im going?;)
connect the electronics.. cnc.. A3x50/70mm 3d printer with minor adjustments cant wait for it to arrive:p


Joined Apr 17, 2010
"Printing a few thousand iPhones on demand (and with instant updates or different versions for each phone) at a local facility that can manufacture many other products may be far more cost-effective than manufacturing ten million identical iPhones in China and shipping them to 180 countries around the world," the Atlantic Council wrote in a report.
In that artical on first post, its says it will print iPhones I think it meant the geometry only, not the semiconductors i.e.. electronic components inside it...so whats the use of it, in printing iPhones?


Joined Oct 17, 2009
I've recently started "printing" my CAD creations using a HP 3D printer, which uses ABS plastic. But I have had experience with the powder based machines too.

They've got a long way to go yet before they are good enough, compared to regular CNC milling/moulding.

They all seem to have poor finish qualities and not as good strength on the final product.

I can definitely see a future for them but not for at least another 10 years or so.


Joined Feb 11, 2008
I see 3D printing as a bit "gimmicky" in that it's main benefit is that it can produce an item with the insides and outsides already finished. Like a hollow mechanism. And some new machines have a nice benefit in being able to print different materials together in one process, like print a hard plastic wheel with a soft rubber tyre in one printing operation.

But as for "industrial revolution" thinking, then CNC subtractive processes (machining) is MUCH faster, and produces better finish and dimensional tolerance etc. It has the drawback of needing to flip parts over to machine both sides etc but generally the huge increase in speed means this is worthwhile making some jigs etc and have the higher production speed and reliability.

Of course for really serious production of items the revolution is long gone, it was injection molding. I watched the "Megafactories" documentary on the LEGO factory, that was pretty impressive. Rows and rows of high tech molding machines, with robot carts travelling from machine to machine to collect all the "products" and take them to an automated packing line. Humans optional. ;)


Joined Nov 13, 2010
I can remember when I watched a documentary about this. 3D printing was being considered for the Mars trip as a back-up just incase primary tools get damaged or lost.

They made an adjustable wrench and tightened up some nuts. Interesting stuff.


Joined Sep 30, 2009
The Rand D department where i worked used a similar but different method to "preview" car electrical connectors, 'stereo-lithography'. A laser and a tank of liquid polymer, a cad-cam program fired the laser as it transversed the tank and solidified a part. The results weren't pretty but would give an idea of the 3-D part. No strength or smooth surfaces to the part though.


Joined Oct 15, 2009
Check out cubify.com We are just waiting for them to be released (end of this month) to pick one up.. For $1300 USD you can't beat that for simple engineering prototypes/assembly one-off fixtures/jigs,etc..
When I need "better" quality/strength/finish,etc.. I either have it done via FDM (fused deposition modeling) or use a company like first cut prototype who can mill the parts from solid blocks of the material..
They do an excellent job too. I just made a very small part and to my surprise they had no problems milling it (you could fit 2 on your thumb..ie very small).. Heck I couldn't tell it apart from the injection molded parts we just got based off that prototype.


Joined Jul 16, 2011
I doubt 3D printing will create a second industrial revolution - at least - not for quite some time.

'The' industrial revolution came about because of multiple reasons - not just one technology. Sure, water mills helped, but so did measures to improve efficency. Also, the economic benefits of the technology was far greater and quicker than just about anything we see today.

My thinking is that unless several major changes come along at once, we are unlikely to see another revolution in industry. Things will continue to improve, but I doubt we'll see another major 'leap', unless several factors stack together, eg. 3D printing, mining in space, etc.

Thread Starter


Joined Mar 24, 2008
I'll disagree on one point, if (a big assumption) they get materials up to a certain point on 3d printers, and it is cheap, it will be big. The current drawbacks are material technologies.

Related trends are biological 3D printing, which my help create new organs from scratch.

Organic electronics, organic transistors and LEDs could also fall in this class (though not yet). This offers the possibility to implant electronics (big, bulky, but unique) into plastic shapes.

I don't think the technology is even close to prime time, but it is a 1st generation replicator.


Joined Oct 15, 2009
Just got 6 parts printed on an Objet 3D printer for a prototype I'm designing and all I can say is "AMAZING".. Much better detail/quality/strength than the previous FDM or ABS (basically melted weed wacker string) parts we were getting in the past. You can "barely" see the layers. It really looks like an injection molded part and behaves like it too. Other things we have had printed in the past were more or less "fragile".. These objet printed parts are great. I actually press fit a brass insert into them and thought they would crack for sure.. But NO..Parts press fit right in like the real molded parts should.
Now I know why Stratasys bought Objet.. Objets process is hands down the best.
Very high detail.

Thread Starter


Joined Mar 24, 2008
What kind of plastic?

The original design during the 80's was 5mils, so I knew they were pretty accurate. My current take is for prototypes, but good ones.

My Dad wanted several models of the jets he used to work on, this would have been perfect I think. Especially if you could control colors (and make transparent parts). It doesn't have to be perfect, just a background shade.