Monday, December 22, 2014

I Am Going to 3-D Print Myself a Pony and a Flamethrower

Some years ago I had reason to visit a man's house and found he made his living by having a complete machine shop in his detached garage. He must have had $100,000 worth of equipment in it. I sometimes wondered what exactly he could make.

I used to read a lot of science-fiction as a teen and found some of the stories dealt with what was called a Universal Assembly Machine - a machine that can make any machine. In Star Trek they were called Replicators. (Let's face it - we know what the Holodeck would really be used for).

Now I wonder about 3-D printing. The inventor, if I remember correctly, said people would use them to make fucktoys, but his opinion is irrelevant, since people throughout history have said, "there is no use for this." The inventions included phones, cars, computers, cell phones...and nearly everything else.

If 3-D printing is what I think it is, economics will have to be rethought. Goodby economies of scale. Good-bye shipping jobs to China. Good-bye huge factories. Hello tiny "factories" in garages and hello dozens of car manufacturers, the way is used to be (REO Speedwagon was originally the name of a car).

Absolute advantage will still exist but comparative advantage never did.

Of course, only time will tell, but I'm looking forward to the 3-D printing of organs. Houses? Cars? For a fraction of what it now costs?

Henry Ford once made cars out of hemp...


el zilcho said...

i'm still waiting for a 3-d printer that can print a 3-d printer.

Unknown said...

I'm waiting for a 3-D printer that can print a 4-D one.

Enbrethiliel said...


Now that I've taken up knitting, nearly every nice thing in a store has me asking not "Can I buy it?" but "Can I make it?" I'll probably invest in a sewing machine next.

Anonymous said...

The prototype URM is Man

Mindstorm said...

It would be a while for 3D-printing to develop to such scales:

Even after that, a necessary supply of rarer elements and a source of energy would limit its uses.