Well that’s the way it always seems as someone wants something as they just want to take rather than give to us, yet that’s not the subject today but close. As what we are going to wax about is the coming paradigm shift in manufacturing and what it means as well as how it will affect us.
As in what we consider a traditional process we utilize a “subtractive” manufacturing technique such as cutting and drilling where we start with a whole and take away from it. The byproduct of this logic is what? Ok, I will help you out, its waste as the remainders of these subtractive process is “waste”, as shavings, cuttings, grinding and so on to be discarded. So we have environmental impact as well as financial as why throw away raw material?
Well in steps our friends at General Electric (GE) into the picture which we all know as a large American conglomerate, who is proposing to manufacture ultrasonic transducers by “additive” manufacturing processes rather than the aforementioned “subtractive” process.
So how will they do this then, well not magic yet something almost as cool because they will use three-dimensional printing, as it’s commonly known. As the firm’s research centre located in Niskayuna, New York, is taking a solid look at the technology available. While some nay sayers claim this to be only a passing fad (I think these are the same folks who said the same about the internet) while others (such as myself) see this as the future of manufacturing. As the key is working out which products might be made more efficiently by the application of “addition” rather than “subtraction”.
What is adding to the excitement is this provides the set for major shift in the manufacturing paradigm the likes we haven’t seen since the boom of the industrial revolution. As having less or even no waste means reduced logistics in raw material, a smaller manufacturing foot print, quicker assembly (build times) as well of course, less waste products. While there is no question most of this technology is in its infancy stages and in the primary hands of the prototyper’s.
Yet this move GE making is an important one from not only the technology, it’s the acceptance of doing as such as it was much like ink-jet printed images where taboo in the photo-art community, so has been the result of 3D printing. However it’s clear that this [old] thinking will be changing sooner than later as it seems we are reaching a tipping point of acceptance just as the photographic world has done with the ink jet printer…