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3-D printing revolutionizing manufacturing

June 3, 2016

As published in Pacific Coast Business Times

Lisa Spiwak

Our business world is about to change in a way that will astound you. Manufacturing and distributing as we presently know them will very soon no longer exist. In its place will be the wonderful new world of 3-D printing. Many industry leaders believe that 3-D printing is the beginning of a third industrial revolution.

3-D printing refers to various processes used to synthesize a three-dimensional object. In 3-D printing, successive layers of material are formed under computer control to create an object. These objects can be of almost any shape or geometry and are produced from a 3-D model or other electronic data source.

The concept of mass producing goods half way around the world and then shipping them to the United States is terribly inefficient. 3-D printing will allow us to use these machines to make all sorts of products right here at home, on demand, for local delivery. It will completely wipe out the transport and logistics industries, which will become obsolete and eventually disappear.

To give you an idea of the scope of the far-reaching ability of 3-D printing, Dubai just unveiled the world’s first 3-D printed office building. It is 2,700 square feet and was created with a 3-D printer using a special cement mixture, layer by layer. It took 17 days to make and cost $140,000. The total labor costs for the building were half of what they would normally be for such a project.

In March, the International Space Station installed a permanent 3-D printer. It was made by a partnership between a company called Made In Space and Lowe’s Innovation Labs. It is essentially a hardware store in space. This machine can be operated both locally and remotely from Earth. It allows designs to be uploaded and 3-D printed. So, if an astronaut is in space and finds himself in need of a particular spare part or tool, he can just program the 3-D printer to make what he needs.

In the University of Texas San Antonio’s biochemical engineering department, researchers are getting very close to being able to use a 3-D printer to print human organs. Another use of 3-D printing in the health care sector is the 3-D printing of standard and custom orthopedic implants.

As one can see, 3-D printing is making inroads in every sector of manufacturing. These machines will not only revolutionize industry as we know it today, but will also have devastating effects on jobs. 3-D printing is unquestionably the beginning of a third industrial revolution.

Lisa Spiwak is a partner with Spiwak & Iezza in Thousand Oaks. Reach her at LSpiwak@sai-legal.com.


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