Yesterday our very own Chris Elsworthy attended a speaker panel at the TRMW Conference at the IP EXPO Conference Centre in Manchester, along with other panel members Chris Thorpe, founder of @icanmakehq, James Bruton of XRobots Guy, XRobots.co.uk, designer Brendan Dawes, and Professor Brian Derby, a lecturer at University of Manchester
The purpose of the panel was to discuss “Material World: A Printed Future? – Why make a thousand units a thousand miles away, when you can make exactly what the customer wants, on the spot, from a standard set of raw materials. New materials and advanced manufacturing are set to disrupt every aspect of production from extraction to consumption. Or are they?”
An hour of discussion crossed a multitude of topics, but here are some of the questions, and Chris’s replies:
Why hasn’t 3D printing caught on so far in the home?
- “The main reason is a lack of understanding about the technology and what it is capable of. And in particular, what we would need a 3D printer for. There will be a slow social change as more and more people become makers and adoption of consumer 3D printers increases as a result. Also important is the difference between children and adults – children get 3D printing straight away but it can take a while to convince many adults about the technology.”
What are the problems with 3D printing and 3D designs?
- “Too often, people just want to recreate objects which already exist. They say that they want to replicate that glass or that toothbrush, but these designs were made for different manufacturing processes. In the future, there will be more designs made specifically for 3D printers and as a result users will get much better and more satisfying results as the technology matures.”
What is the far future of 3D printing?
- “3D printing with more and more types of materials will make 3D printing more and more useful. Imagine being able to 3D print an entire combustion engine, complete with everything you need including the oil. Once this can be done efficiently, manufacturing processes will change dramatically.”
Chris was delighted to meet some like-minded people who understand his vision for the future of 3D printing, included Tom Cheesewright, BBC Tech expert and founder of Book of the Future.