A Bloomberg article posted earlier today ( http://buswk.co/WRmwXI ) entitled "A Lack Of R&D

A Bloomberg article posted earlier today (http://buswk.co/WRmwXI) entitled “A Lack Of R&D May Kill the 3D Printing Gold Rush”. While I think the title of the article is interesting enough in of itself (and the entire article is well written IMO), the thing that stood out to me the most was the following paragraph; In particular, the first sentence.

“A major problem with 3D printing that most people ignore is that there’s no Moore’s Law-type mechanics underlying the technology. The physics behind fusing a powder with a laser or melting plastic and squeezing it through a nozzle pose severe limitations on the speed at which you can print an object. And once you’ve applied a layer of plastic, the printer must take time to move and adjust a platform supporting the object.”

So I for one agree that R&D is always a good thing, and there is plenty of room for it in 3D Printing. But I wonder about the ability, or inability, to apply Moore’s Law to 3DP. I think that there MANY ways to improve the speed accuracy and efficiency of 3D Printing, many companies are already doing it. And I wouldn’t be suprised at all if over the next 2-3 years we double, if not triple, our printing speed. But like all manufacturing we will eventually run up against a threshold of how quickly you can print. For that matter I think Moore’s Law will eventually die with regard to how small computer memory can be. Unless there is a breakthrough like unlocking the secrets of biological storage, or discovering unobtanium, we are reaching the physical limits of data storage.


Perhaps we need a new law, or maybe I just don’t know the name of it. This law would describes a technology that makes creating an object cheaper as it increases in complexity; and permits just in time delivery of personalized products without significant cost but with significant customer satisfaction. Maybe we could call it Bre’s Law? :wink:

To me the beauty of the universal logical tool (the personal computer) isn’t Moore’s Law (do we seriously think OS bloat was a good thing?). Instead it is the kids (like me) who got them in their hands at age 12 and put in the thousands of hours learning how to use them to do amazing things. The most amazing thing about the personal computer revolution was that it was something that created a wave of new capability for our species.

I believe 3dp can have a similar impact in human terms. Mr. Vance may be lucky enough to be around when this is realized and perhaps he’ll write about it then. For now I think he is missing the point. It isn’t about building a holodeck but making the idea of a holodeck real in the minds of millions of 12 year old innovators. They are the ones that will create their own laws that will drive 3dp to places we have yet to fully imagine.

Extruding plastic may hit a wall but I think we will still see exponential growth is capability/resolution/speed if we look at all printers - for example stereolithographic printers are poised to make a significant jump in the coming year.