Wednesday, April 26, 2006

I'm currently reading "FAB -The Coming Coming Revolution on Your Desktop" by Neil Gershenfeld. ISBN 0-465-02745-8

Imagine downloading the IP rights and plans to a manfactured product and having your own Star Trek style replicator materialize one for you.

If you're fascinated by technology and major economic shifts, this is a great book to pick up.

Automated high-precision manufacturing of complex parts is performed today by digitally controlled milling machines. Like a mainframe of the past, digitally-controlled milling machines could only be afforded by a corporation, such as Boeing.

If you go a step beyond milling machines and think printing out a product you've just downloaded, consider this: There are fabrication machines operating today that use ink-jet technology to produce 3-D objects from digital plans by squirting droplets of liquid epoxy binders (rather than ink) onto a layer of powder rather than paper. A new layer of powder is deposited and the next layer of epoxy binders is squirted from the print-head. Voila! A 3-D object!

Could you print a multi-layer circuit board, a radio or an iPod?

Instead of using a "monochrome" print head squirting only one type of "ink" what if we used a "tri-color" print head and cartridge? One ink in the cartridge would be a thin "conductive ink," the second would be an "insulating ink" and the third could be "case ink" a kind of liquid plastic in the desired color (or clear) for the outer case of an i-Pod?

We can buy a number of high-resolution inkjets at Wal*Mart today for about $30-$130.
How much would adding a third-dimension (layering) cost? Imagine buying a "Lexmark Replicator Z-72" or an "HP build-jet" that prints in progressive layers.

Yes, there are issues to be solved, but they're all solvable with existing technology. Economics will determine the capabilities of the first mass-produced consumer grade Digital Fabrication Devices (DFD).

Computer! Make me Earl Grey, hot, lightly sweetened.


At 5:32 PM, Blogger Spacerguy said...

Earl Grey eh? You must have been brainwashed by Picard. Try Saurian Brandy, now thats more Captain Kirks style!

At 9:55 AM, Blogger Green Salad said...

Saurian brandy is fine for philosphical discussions with Bones, fist-fights and courting shapely females of the blue-skinned variety.

For strategizing and decision-making in Alaska...I'll stick to Capt. Picard as a role-model and sipping a mug of Earl Grey, hot.


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