Tag Archives: Apple

3D Printing’s Apple 1 Moment: 3D Printing Conference (Part 1)

3D Printing Conference Apple 1 Moment

Inside 3D Printing Conference (Part 1)

We are in New York City at the Inside 3D Printing conference, where several thousand 3D printing professionals and enthusiasts are gathered to discuss what’s happening, and what’s possible, in 3D printing.

Cornell Professor Hod Lipson opened the conference, asking “How will 3D printing change our lives?” He continued, “In the last 2 or 3 years, it all took off.”

Lipson then welcomed 3D Systems‘ CEO Avi Reichental for the formal keynote. He provided some insights into where the technology is being used today and where it will go. Here are some of his insightful and powerful statements:

  • “3D printing is going to disrupt everything around us.”
  • “Complexity is free.”
  • “3D printing means consumers will be able to co-create with their favorite brands.”
  • “New and disruptive business models, [and] new retail opportunities ahead of us.”

3D Systems is also making several announcements today we’ll cover in a separate article. After Reichental’s keynote, Brian Evans took the stage. Evans is an assistant professor at the Metropolitan State University of Denver.

“I’ve never taught a class this large,” Evans joked as he kicked off. He then took the audience through a fundamental overview of desktop 3D printers, discussing topics from design to materials to current challenges. He walked through different design software in a hands-on demonstration using the Stanford bunny as an example for what’s cool and what’s hard about 3D printing.

3D Printing Conference Stanford Bunny

3D Printing’s Apple 1 Moment

“3D printing is in its Apple 1 moment,” said Evans as he showed a photo of Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak (above). The first Apple 1 was just a circuit board. Customers had to build a plywood case around it. “Who knew that in 30 years we’d all be carrying iPhones?” Evans mused.

There’s an excitement in the room at the Inside 3D Printing conference today, probably best characterized by the concept that something created today, by someone at this show, could become as transformative as the iPhone in a few years.

Stay tuned for more coverage! #3dprintconf

Top 10 Countdown: Most Popular 3D Printing Stories in September 2012

Cross Necklace 3D Printing Celebrities

Here are the top 10 most popular stories On 3D Printing brought you in September 2012.

10. Interview: Protos Eyewear Combines Fashion, Tech, and 3D Printing

9. The Variable Cross: Create Your Own 3D Printed Cross Pendant Necklace

8. Unique 3D Printed Art Featured at the 3D Print Show in London

7. 3D Printing Mobile Labs: A New Combat Strategy for the U.S. Military

6. 3D Printing iPhones in America: Disrupting Foxconn’s Assembly Line

5. 3D Printing Will Be As Disruptive As the PC, Thanks to Piracy

4. Could 3D Printing Save the Public Library System? Mixed Opinions

3. 3D Printing on the Horizon: Can You Spot the Trend?

2. Interview: Idle Print Looks to Monetize Spare Cycles in 3D Printing

1. 3D Printing a Futuristic Airplane Cabin: Innovation at Airbus


Thanks for reading in September!


Top 3D Printing Headlines Last Week: iPhones, Fab Labs, Brazil, Manhattan

Foxconn iPhone 3D Printing

A roundup of the top news On 3D Printing brought you from September 24 to September 28.

Monday, September 24
Tuesday, September 25

3D Printing iPhones in America: Disrupting Foxconn’s Assembly Line

Foxconn iPhone 3D Printing

Forbes contributor Baizhu Chen writes about economics with an emphasis on the US and China. He recently wrote an article about how the US could take back manufacturing from China and the implications of that move.

This article was a reversal on an earlier stance where he said that US doesn’t make iPhones because we don’t want to. Here was is original logic:

America does not produce iPhones here because we, the average middle-class American family, demand that Apple outsource its production to China. The 10 largest shareholders of Apple are all either mutual funds or institutions. The largest shareholder is Fidelity, and the second Vanguard. If Apple is not able to generate good returns for the average American, we will punish these mutual funds by moving our retirement money to somewhere else. So who decides to locate the manufacturing bases of Apple, Dell, and Nike to China or other countries? Average Americans, who seek high returns on their investments.

Mr. Chen published a revised point of view where he explained how 3D printing technology will be the catalyst for disruption of this traditional low-wage assembly line work.

We can make iPhones in America, but not under today’s cost structure and technology. Lining up thousands of American workers in the 20th century style assembly line, doing repetitive work day in and day out, is not going to win manufacturing jobs back to America from developing nations. Making iPhones in America would require some great American creativity and productivity. This will become increasingly possible given the emerging new technology, especially the additive manufacturing which uses 3D printers turning layers of materials into solid objects.

But, a 3D printed manufacturing concept diverges from the classic scale economy model and becomes de-centralized.

3D printing technology overthrows the notion of a scale economy. Putting thousands of 3D printers in the same location will not improve cost competitiveness over scattering them in different places. Future manufacturing will be a very de-centralized process. 3D printers have become so cheap (personal 3D printers cost as low as less than $1000) that in the future, consumers can even produce their shoes, toys, kitchen wares at homes or a shop nearby. They can download the designs from the internet, tweak according to their tastes, and change the sizes for their own purposes. Future manufacturing no longer needs thousands of workers doing repetitive jobs in the same location.

The de-centralization of manufacturing therefore removes the need for hubs like China to produce everything.

The widespread use of 3D printing technology in manufacturing could lead to de-globalization of manufactured goods. In the past century, we have seen a globalization process in which companies allocate production sites in countries that make the most sense in terms of costs, far away from consumers. In this process, China and other developing nations have become the manufacturing hubs, producing products for consumer nations like the United States. The use of 3D printing technology will counter this globalization process, and could pull manufacturing away from China or other developing nations back to countries where products are consumed.

Ironically, now that low-wage jobs overseas can be replaced by local technology, high-skill design jobs can now be globalized and shipped overseas.

While manufacturing of goods could be localized with additive manufacturing, the professional services including engineering, design and intellectual protection will be globalized. This has a profound impact on redistribution of income among nations. America, leading in additive manufacturing technologies, will undoubtedly be the biggest winner in this process. American companies, not only can print “things” in local printing shops in America, but also in China for Chinese consumers using American designs. This could even reverse the trade balance between America and China.

Which means that America will not see a resurgence in assembly line jobs. To the contrary, the US will now face competition for skilled digital engineering and design jobs, and tomorrow’s engineers need to be trained with this in mind.

However, those hoping this process will generate a large number of manufacturing jobs in America will be disappointed. The additive manufacturing will not bring back 20th century assembly jobs to America. What is needed more for America’s future is engineers, designers, and IP lawyers. Politicians arguing for solving unemployment problem by bringing back iPhone assembly jobs are looking in the mirror backward. They should be moving forward by focusing on policies to improve our education to produce talents for future manufacturing.


Read the full article by Mr. Chen at Forbes.

Forbes 3D Printing Interview with Shapeways CEO Peter Weijmarshausen

Peter Weijmarshausen Shapeways CEO

Forbes recently sat down with Shapeways CEO Peter Weijmarshausen to talk about 3D printing.

In his remarks, Weijmarshausen compared traditional manufacturing processes to the innovative approach of additive manufacturing, or 3D printing.

3D printing technology was commercially invented in 1989, and had been in use for prototyping for a number of years. So, in that traditional design process, designers might have actually used 3D printers to make product prototypes. But the costs have come down a lot, and the materials these printers can work with have expanded from plastics to materials like stainless steel, silver, ceramics, and glass – with many more coming. And the answer to that original question turned out to be “absolutely yes.” There are an amazing number of real products that can be made directly with this technology. For example, my iPhone case is 3D printed. My cufflinks are 3D printed. Even my coffee cup is 3D printed.

Weijmarshausen also gave his predictions about the future.

In many ways. Think back to what we discussed about how mass manufactured products are made, and I can tell you there are inherent benefits to direct-from-digital manufacturing. First, the time from concept to actual product is condensed from years to a matter of days. We have one user who launched an iPad cover four days after the iPad launched in 2010. He didn’t have any help from Apple – he just bought an iPad in the store and designed a beautiful cover in a few days and then made it commercially available on Shapeways. So, the time to market is compressed immensely. The other key aspect is that the risk of going to market is almost non-existent, because your investment is only the design of the product itself.

The other big thing about 3D printing is the freedom it offers. For almost 100 years, designers have been trained to think within the limits of traditional manufacturing technology. 3D printing allows you to make incredibly complex designs at no additional cost: interlocking components, naturally hinged parts, semi-translucent surfaces, and even objects that can move on their own without assembly (like the strandbeest). You can make things that were not even possible before. And one of the most exciting things for me is to see young designers in schools being directly influenced by the availability of this technology. We will see products emerge that we’ve never imagined before – mind blowing shapes and solutions. I can’t wait to see what will happen in the next five years.


Read the full interview at Forbes.

Peter Weijmarshausen photo by Dave Pinter used under Creative Commons license.