"Can you make a precision part for a machine with additive manufacturing?"They already make unique car parts and prosthetic implants with perfect precision.I think the only question we all need to ask is whether 3D printing becomes mainstream or not. How much 3D printing can replace mass manufacturing.I was very much surprised to see Apple applying CNC for the unibody design. I think one reason no one else thought about that before Apple was that CNC was not considered a technology for mass production.If you go to a site like Shapeways you pay $20-$100 for a coffee mug. A mug can be bought for $1 at Wallmart. People pay such high price for the thrill of buying a 3D printed object. Early adopter price. The market is so limited companies like Shapeways moved from Europe to the US to be close to its customers.We know that Apple's hardware is price competitive. When will 3D printing become price competitive on a manufacturing scale? Maybe not the $1 mug but say high end mugs for $4. A $4 mug could compete with hand crafted quality products.Today it takes at least 6 hours to finish an object the size of a coffee mug. If you want it from materials other than plastic you need another 6 hours of processing.These conditions must change radically to see the kind of sweeping adoption we dream about.I think the current upheaval in the 3D printing universe is solely about cheaper printers. And that disruption came from the DIY community. Not from the the incumbent big companies like DDD to SSYS.I am actually a bit concerned about the level of M&A activity. We used to have a few companies in the industry with solid balance sheet and steady growth.Now because of companies like Makerbot backed by silicon alley VC money 3D printing turned into a speculative field.This field is super exciting but the business models are far from certain to me. Everybody has tis notion of having a printer at home and just hit print and there you have your whatever object. In reality all - I mean all of them - 3D printer companies are hardware companies. None of them has quality software to run these machines. We have yet to see the Microsoft of 3D printing.
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