Print on demand

Den breda allmänheten tror nog fortfarande att 3D skrivare är fiction men faktum är att det redan finns. Priset för en enkel 3D skrivare ligger i nivå med vad en laserskrivare kostade på 80-talet.

At the moment the process is possible only with certain materials (plastics, resins and metals) and with a precision of around a tenth of a millimetre. As with computing in the late 1970s, it is currently the preserve of hobbyists and workers in a few academic and industrial niches. But like computing before it, 3D printing is spreading fast as the technology improves and costs fall. A basic 3D printer, also known as a fabricator or “fabber”, now costs less than a laser printer did in 1985.

Det finns redan kommersiella krafter som tagit till sig tekniken och i takt med att tekniken blir bättre och billigare kommer det att få en oerhörd betydelse för en mängd områden.

Other services allow individuals to upload their own designs and have them printed. Shapeways, a New York-based firm spun out of Philips, a Dutch electronics company, last year, offers personalised 3D production, or “mass customisation”, as Peter Weijmarshausen, its chief executive, describes it. Shapeways prints more than 10,000 unique products every month from materials that range from stainless steel to glass, plastics and sandstone. Customers include individuals and shopkeepers, many ordering jewellery, gifts and gadgets to sell in their stores.

Det är ganska enkelt att förstå vilka konsekvenser detta kommer få för logistikbranschen. Men det finna andra aspekter som också är viktiga.

Perhaps the most exciting aspect of additive manufacturing is that it lowers the cost of entry into the business of making things. Instead of finding the money to set up a factory or asking a mass-producer at home (or in another country) to make something for you, 3D printers will offer a cheaper, less risky route to the market. An entrepreneur could run off one or two samples with a 3D printer to see if his idea works. He could make a few more to see if they sell, and take in design changes that buyers ask for. If things go really well, he could scale up—with conventional mass production or an enormous 3D print run.

3D skrivare kan bidra till innovation och utveckling. Samtidigt så kommer det precis som med andra digitala produkter bli svårare att skydda sig mot piratkopior och olaglig användning av de digitala ”gjutformarna”.

Technology: Print me a Stradivarius | The Economist.

3D printing: The printed world | The Economist.

3d-skrivare skapar helt nya möjligheter – IDG.se.

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