Sunday, April 22, 2012

The Third Revolution

Read very interesting article in "Economist " Apr 21st - 27th 2012
  1.  Manufacturing is going digital.
  2. Now a product can be designed on a computer and “printed” on a 3D printer which creates a solid object by building up successive layers of materials.
  3. Clever software, novel materials, more dexterous robots, new processes (three dimensional printing) and a whole range of web-based services will enable it.
  4. Future jobs will be full of designers, engineers, IT specialists, logistics experts, marketing staff and other experts.
  5. Some products are so sophisticated that it helps to have the people who design them and people who make them in the same place.
  6. Manufacturing will return to rich countries.
  7. Workers will use computers instead of hammers.
  8. 3D printing or additive manufacturing is a process of making three dimensional solid objects from a digital file.
  9. Machines can swap their own tools, cut in multiple directions and “feel” if something is going wrong, together with robots equipped with vision and other sensing systems.
  10. Training will be easy. Computers can simulate production systems in a virtual environments, and products too
Additive Manufacturing(Solid Print)
  1.  It worked by using a beam of ultraviolet light to solidify a thin layer of liquid plastic, a bit like ink, and repeating the process by adding more liquid plastic.
  2. Started by making one-off prototypes
  3. More things are being printed as products as technology matured.
Applications:
  1. Lots of consumer goods, mechanical parts, shoes and architects model
  2. Ready-to-wear shoes and dresses from plastic and nylon materials.
  3. Dental crowns and shells for hearing aids  and Gear box for a racing car.
How 3D Printers work
  • 1. Layer by Layer
  • 2. Software takes a series of digital slices through a computer-aided design and sends descriptions of those slices to the 3D printer, which adds successive thin layers until a solid object emerges.
  • 3. Object uses the inket head to spray an ultra-thin layer of liquid plastic onto a build tray. The layer is cured by exposure to ultraviolet light. The build layer is lowered fractionally and next layer is build.
  • 4. Deposition Modelling : melting plastic in an extrusion head to deposit a thin  filament of  material  to build the layers.
  • 5. Powder : Other systems use powders print medium. The powder can be spread as a thin layer onto the build tray and solidified with a squirt of liquid binder.
  • 6. Powder can melted into the required pattern with a laser in a process called laser sintering .
  • 7. Another firm fuses the powder in its printer with an electron beam operating in a vacuum
  • 8. For complicated structures that contain void and overhangs, gels and other materials are added to provide support, or the space can be left filled with powder that has not been fused.
  •             This support material can be blown away or washed away later.
  • 9. The material that can be printed now range from numerous plastics to metals, ceramics and rubber-like substances.
  • 10. Some machines can combine materials, making an object rigid at one end and soft at the other.

Applications:
  • Simple living tissues such as skin, muscle and short stretches of blood vessels.
Future Applications 
  •  larger body parts like kidneys, livers and ever hearts

Killer App
  • Printing chocolate.

References:
  1. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/3D_printing
  2. "Economist " Apr 21st - 27th 2012


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