So how big is the gap between a 3D printing machine and a personal fabricator that can produce anything we like, for example, a gold ring?
The more expensive, commercial laser sintering machines can basically create whatever object you want out of titanium/gold, but it’ll cost you an arm and a leg.
Hobby level printers also have another option at their disposal, lost-pla casting, which is basically the same as lost-wax. http://3dtopo.com/lostPLA/
I mean, will it ever be possible to fabricate a gold ring from the atomic ingredients that gold is made of? So basically, will we ever be able to fabricate things from an atomic level?
Not in your lifetime.
Atomic level , unlikely, molecular level, already possible (done in labs, at very small scale): however, these are horribly slow processes and are not, for most uses, more practical or better at making “standard” objects.
Can we create atoms from a supply of sub-atomic particles? No.
Can we assemble atoms into specified molecules? Sort of.
Can we move atoms and molecules into specified positions? Mostly.
that would be nano-fabrication and might happen but probably wouldn’t be used to create large objects like a 3d printer, which would probably use a gold powder + binding agent composite
Basically, no, you’re never going to be able to say “tea, earl grey, hot”. And have a machine fabricate whatever you want out of atomic structures.
You might be able to, but it will start with a bunch of hydrocarbons etc, not with an endless supply of energy.
And it would be cheaper to use a tea-bag.
That’s honestly what it all boils down to: practicality.
Technically speaking, repraps are being used to print gold rings. Just not directly. They print the models used to cast the metal.
So, an aweful lot is being done with hobby grade printers. They just are just part of a process, not the process.
i disagree with your statement “not in your lifetime” @ThantiK
I agree with @Nils_Hitze except I would say not in “MY” life time, but yes possibly within “A Life Time” the next 50 years or so it will happen …
Why? Why do I say this? I say Read @Ray_Kurzweil1
@Nils_Hitze , nano-scale is not atomic scale.
“The 3D-printing process uses a proprietary liquid resin that is hardened to a polymer at precise co-ordinates using a focused laser beam.”
This is basically just a photopolymer like the projector-style systems that are being developed (lemoncurry). They aren’t able to make different materials at the atomic structure level. What’s innovative about this is that they are focusing lasers on a 3D plane to produce a model anywhere inside the photopolymer instead of building it up layer by layer.
There are THREE kinds of fabbers. the first is subtractive, that is routers, cutters, lathes.
the second is additive, ie 3d printers.
the third is formative. that is, variable molds or machines that can bend things into exact shapes. not many of those, yet.
You can’t make tea earl grey hot.
but with a variable mold machine, you might be able to instantly stamp out a copy of the cup.
Well, 10 years ago, a plastic printer was out of reach. In 5 years I reckon we will be making our own metal 3D printers seeing as they have them now.
I am agreeing with @Helena . You can pick up a new 50 watt laser cutter for $1500 (plus that again for shipping!?!). It wouldn’t take too terribly much more than that to mod that into a sintering printer.
I was looking ant a large bed objet printer… why not go hog wild and make a print platform twenty feet wide and long? then have a place printing batches of small things, a hundred or so at a time?
@Laston_Kirkland I’d noodled that one around too. Multiple print heads operating independently in the same space… made my head hurt.
Having a dozen print heads hanging off the same frame so they all printed at the same time made much more sense to me. I’d want to add a per-nozzle kill switch that turned off the extruder as prints failed.
The issue that I saw was to scale up a machine to handle the moving mass of all those print heads needs industrial scale components. For the time being, it’s probably cheaper to throw more all-thread at the problem and run fams of small machines.
I should also mention that by calibrating all the print nozzles together, we could have a multi-color-multi-material printer in the center of a small sub-area of the large print bed - that spot where all of them can reach. Or We can do a large parallel run of all the same material. Or we can divide sets of nozzles and do something in between.
photo polymer, not fillament line. or powder and sintering head. single moving rod passing back and forth.
something like this. only big enough to print a bunch at the same time.