These last few days I read some articles about 3D printing in major mainstream publications. Talking about ‘mixed realities’, 3D printing fascinates me as it seems to make it so easy to translate digital constructs into physical ones, or physical ones (through scanning) into digital ones and than back into physical ones.
Izabella Kaminska at FT.com/alphaville points out that in the future manufacturing will be relocated to the demand or resource point. She concludes her post about the ‘3D printing: rise of the machines‘:
Low-cost production techniques could soon become so advanced and so low cost â€” thanks to developments like 3D printing â€” that even the tiniest salaries in Africa will not make it worthwhile to employ human beings at all.
Kaminska also posted about ‘how technology is killing the Asian growth miracle‘:
Weâ€™ve noted on more than one occasion that economists may be missing a trick when it comes to how technology is changing the global economy. More so, that developments like 3D printing, could even pose a black-swan risk for Asia in their own right.
Read also Vivek Wadhwa in Foreign Policy, who claims that the future of manufacturing is in America, not China – 3D printing being one of the driving forces for this to happen.
At The Economist, the Babbage column says that 3D printing could very well become the PC all over again:
WHAT could well be the next great technological disruption is fermenting away, out of sight, in small workshops, college labs, garages and basements. Tinkerers with machines that turn binary digits into molecules are pioneering a whole new way of making thingsâ€”one that could well rewrite the rules of manufacturing in much the same way as the PC trashed the traditional world of computing.
But the column warns these tinkerers, quoting Michael Weinberg, a staff lawyer at Public Knowledge (advocacy group in Washington, DC):
There will be a time when impacted legacy industries [will] demand some sort of DMCA for 3D printing,â€ says Mr Weinberg. If the tinkerers wait until that day, it will be too late.
One of the issue to consider is what role virtual environments can play in facilitating 3D-printing and international collaboration in that sector. I’m sure that will be one of the topics at the upcoming MetaMeets conference in the Netherlands.