Attendees at this year’s Melbourne International Flower and Garden Show in March are in for a surprise. No, not the usual prize petunias or gigantic geraniums. Natural beauty is two a penny here. Instead lucky ticket-holders will witness the unveiling of something entirely man-made – yet, not: a 3D printed treehouse.
The autonomously produced Kooky Cubby is the brainchild of a five-member consortium of Australian architects, engineers and robot designers. The precise design remains a tightly kept secret but the plastic molded cubby is known to draw on 3D printing technology developed by the Architectural Robotics Lab at RMIT University.
In a study conducted by researchers at Michigan State University, it was found that scientists who win the Nobel Prize are also nearly three times as likely to have a hobby in the arts than the general scientific population. The idea that science also benefits the arts is one with which the West has been familiar at least since the time of Leonardo da Vinci. The idea that science and art are somehow not only separate, but also diametrically opposed, activities is one that is on its last legs and nowhere is that more apparent than in STEAM education.
BT has purchased and deployed an industrial 3D printer for its Magna Park distribution centre so it can provide key parts to engineers on site.
BT spent around £25,000 on the machine, an MJP2500+ from US firm 3D Systems that was delivered just before Christmas. It went into production in mid-January.
The firm is using it for a variety of uses, from printing parts for ‘just in time’ delivery to ensuring it can provide engineers with items that may not be produced by manufacturers anymore.
It also enables BT to test out new ideas that engineers can suggest and print a few items to trial in the field, rather than having to go through a full manufacturing process.
In the first part of this blog series, three theses were introduced showing what 3D printing can and cannot offer. Ultimately, this also dictates in which industries and scenarios revolutions take place and where 3D printing and rapid prototyping are used in a complementary role. To distinguish between realistic and “hyped” applications, we want to investigate and evaluate the potential of currently implemented 3D printing scenarios. Here are four scenarios exemplifying where 3D printing changes the world and where it does not:
Application #1: 3D printing is expensive but brings great advantages
40,000 injectors for jet engines, which GE Aviation is planning to print annually starting in 2018, are a good example. The inner form of these engines makes them fairly difficult to produce with conventional methods: up until now, they had to be assembled using over 20 parts. 3D-printed jet engines save 19 percent kerosene and are 25 percent lighter. These two benefits far outweigh the high manufacturing costs. This is why mass manufacturing is worthwhile in this case.
Conclusion: the design freedom offered by 3D printing can outweigh the high costs when the advantages are significant enough. This new technique helped to overcome existing manufacturing limitations, which enables the application of more advanced improvements in technologies in the future.
A great initiative: transform municipal waste plastic into plastic filament for use in 3D printing! It lowers the cost of manufacture and brings designs and capability to where it can be of most value.
Any outlook covering a period of several decades is surrounded by plenty of uncertainties that could significantly alter its projected trends. That is the key reason why those who compile these outlooks often avoid the word “forecast”, and talk instead about “scenarios” (the International Energy Agency’s World Energy Outlook) and “cases”.
BP’s latest Energy Outlook “considers a base case, outlining the ‘most likely’ path for global energy markets over the next 20 years based on assumptions and judgments about future changes in policy, technology and the economy”. Sixteen of its around 100 pages focus on “key uncertainties” to 2035, which include the possibility of a more rapid penetration of electric cars, increased energy efficiency and a faster-than-anticipated transition to a lower-carbon economy.
Great article by Mike Scott in Forbes:
Much of the focus in the technology world currently is on artificial intelligence, machine learning and big data – and how they will affect the way we use products and how machines operate.
But developing just as quickly, although with slightly less hype, is 3D printing, or additive manufacturing (AM), which is going to have at least as big an impact on how we make things as AI et al. The process creates products by depositing layers of material, generally ground metal or plastic, to a template, lasering that material into place and repeating the process to build the required product – anything from replacement hips to jet engine parts.
Siemens says the technology is a “game-changer,” with benefits including a 30% cut in greenhouse gas emissions, a 63% reduction in resource use and a shrinking of the time it takes to bring products to market by 75%
Researchers in the Technology and Innovation Management Group at RWTH Aachen University, Germany have predicted the most probable uses of additive manufacturing in the year 2030.
The study was conducted to help strategic planning and decision making for manufacturers, engineers and researchers in the field, and can be reviewed in full in the journal of Technological Forecasting and Social Change.