NPR Calls 3D Printing “Miraculous” in All Things Considered Feature
NPR correspondent Zoe Chace filed a special report on All Things Considered about 3D printing. She interviews Shapeways CEO Peter Weijmarshausen, industry analyst Terry Wohlers, and author Chris Anderson.
This is the latest report from NPR. Back in June, they also discussed 3D printing.
Zoe Chace takes through what 3D printing can do, and calls it “miraculous”. In a matter of hours, you can print “stuff”, from shoes to bracelets to iPhone cases. She continues to say that it’s easy to see how 3D printing could have a radical impact on the economy.
Peter Weijmarshausen helps us understand what Shapeways’ role is in the 3D printing industry. Terry Wohlers talks about what 3D printing might replace, and what it won’t. Chris Anderson discusses how 3D printing will lead to the democratization of manufacturing.
You can listen to the full radio program or read the transcript below.
The first key to thinking about 3-D printers is this: Do not think printer. Think magic box that creates any object you can imagine.
In the box, razor-thin layers of powdered material (acrylic, nylon, silver, whatever) pile one on top of the other, and then, voila — you’ve got a shoe, or a cup, or a ring, or an iPhone case.
It’s miraculous to see. Press a button, make anything you want. But just how important is 3-D printing? Unlike earlier big-deal technologies (like, say, the tractor) 3-D printing won’t really replace what came before.
“If you’re producing trash cans or stadium seats, you’ll more than likely produce them the old way,” says analyst Terry Wohlers.
And for consumers, the economist Tyler Cowen points out, it’s still way easier to order something from Amazon than print it yourself — and that’s how people will buy things for the foreseeable future.
Still, 3D printing is amazingly powerful for personalized applications.
Right now, there are 30,000 people walking around with 3D printed titanium hips, which are less expensive than conventionally manufactured artificial hips.
Boosters of 3D printing dream of a day when printers can make new body parts. More prosaically, they talk about a day when every shirt, every dress, every pair of pants can be custom printed to perfectly fit each person.
Another thing to keep in mind about 3D printing: It democratizes who gets to be in the manufacturing business. You don’t need a giant factory and million-dollar machines. You just need $500 and a garage.
3D printing photo by DSTL UNR used under Creative Commons license.