Bill Nye: 3D Printing is Awesome, but It’s Nothing Compared to What’s Coming

Posted on May 27, 2017 By

3D printing technology is I won’t say the greatest thing ever but it’s pretty great. So the other word you’re going to start seeing a lot more of I think is additive manufacture. 3D printing is kind of a specific style where you do layers. But I think you’ll see other additive manufacturing schemes following different fluids and materials that are buoyant those fluids and then extracted and shapes can be created that are not possible, impossible to create by subtractive manufacture which is what I was brought up with as an engineer. You cut threads in a piece of metal or plastic to get a threaded fastener. You hollow something out. I often think about the astronauts rock boxes so they took boxes to the moon to put rocks in and bring them back to the Earth in a hermetically sealed fashion.

And in order to get the boxes to be lightweight the machinist’s term is they were hogged out. So they started with a piece of aluminum this big, hollowed the whole thing out with a milling machine. Chips of aluminum just go on the shop floor to get this thin but yet very, very strong final shape. Well in the future or maybe this afternoon very few of us will manufacture objects like that subtractively. Instead this will be made additively. And it will be lighter weight, cheaper, less waste and it will enable many, many people to participate in the additive manufactured process.

And then if you have a problem at home where something’s broken, pick a thing. Your toaster. You’ll go online, find a new toaster control knob, maybe a family of designs. You’ll pick the one that you like. You’ll go to the spiritual equivalent of FedEx/Kinkos and they’ll have an additive manufacturing machine there. If you need a really sophisticated you’ll call a more sophisticated additive manufacturing machine shop. And they’ll make the thing for you. And you will not waste the toaster. You will not throw it away. You will not waste nearly as much material, hardly any material if you hadn’t manufactured the new knob or a piece or a heater wire. And this will allow us to do more with less. This is democratizing manufacture. In the same way perhaps that art is democratized. People can make music now. People can mix hundreds of musical tracks at home.

People can go to the store and buy paintbrushes and paint and canvas. Or you can electronically create it. This is democratizing manufacture a more efficient way. And I think there’ll be a very near future where people from my business of mechanical engineering will look around at objects and go we used to waste all that metal and all that you just leave it on the shop floor.

Oh the humanity. And so as that technology matures because there’s so – the obvious advantages are so obvious that more and more people will get into the business and it will lower the cost of everything. I have a juicer that belonged to my neighbor who died when she was 86 and the business end, the thing that really does the reaming is chipped. Man I look forward to the day when I can scan that and then additively manufacture a new one and just put it right on the old machine. I can see it. It’s probably possible now if I put in enough energy in finding the right machine shop.

I could probably do it right now but I’ve got other things going on. I’ve got to do this right here for example..

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