March 18th, 2013 The Future of 3D Manufacturing - Brooklyn Style

On Monday March 18, OLC attended Brooklyn Futurist: The Future of 3D Manufacturing. The event featured the following panalists: Robert Steiner, Director of Product Development for MakerBot Industries; Duann Scott, Designer Evangelist, Shapeways; and JF Brandon, of D Shape. The event was moderated Jim Kohlenberger, Chief of Staff for the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy.   

The event focused on the future and current state of three-dimensional printing. The panelists hailed from some of the biggest front-runners in this up-and-coming technology.

Robert Steiner of MakerBot, presented first. Steiner gave a brief overview of what 3D printing actually encompasses. He compared it to a cheese/meat slicer at a deli. 3D printers “slice” an object into pieces, and then stack the pieces to create a solid object. Steiner then presented several 3D models and sculptural pieces, some of which have been featured in Wired magazine. He explained the various types of materials used to print 3D objects – PLA (a corn bio-plastic) and ABS (a stronger, Lego-type plastic). ABS is the material most engineers favor for their 3D printings.

Next to present was JF Brandon of D Shape. Brandon began his presentation with a look into the future of 3D printing. “Jobs will never be eliminated because of automation,” he stressed. Brandon described how the company’s machine creates large-scale objects from 3D printed concrete. A machine deposits a thin layer of liquid layer by layer. The result is massive 3D printed structures. Brandon presented examples such as a 30 ft sculptural piece, tables, benches and even a house. “The advantages,” he explained, “are quick turn around time, greater design freedom.” The machine helps make building structures less labor-intensive, allowing more time for creativity.

After that, Duann Scott of Shapeways presented. He opened with an overview of the history of 3D printing. The technology began as something called “rapid prototyping,” which engineers used to produce prototypes of expensive pieces. In the last four years, innovations have lead to an increase in material quality, as well as accessibility to 3D printing. Scott went on to detail Shapeways platform and business ideas. He also pointed out that with 3D printing you “only pay for the amount of materials you need.” Scott went on to show examples of jewelry and other objects made with 3D printing.

All of the panelists agreed that a great attribute of 3D printing is the openness of the technology. 3D printing encourages design, creativity and open-source work.