We managed to get an afternoon out of the office to visit the NEC for TCT Additive Manufacture show last week. It was our first time to TCT this year, however, first impressions were the industry show is changing. In many ways a coming together of aerospace standard scanning and printing systems and the Maker Faire / Hackspace type community. With Exhibitors ranging from the likes of http://www.arcam.com with their excellent range of metal print technologies, we saw sacrificial sand casting being 3D printed and full colour 3d printing in paper from http://www.mcortechnologies.com/ The 3D terrain mapping is unreal. This alongside the lower cost consumer end, alternative affordable desktop 3D print technologies, of those, things of interest to us were Makerbots Digitiser which shows promise and personal favourite being the just released Ultimaker 2. It’s nice to see a design evolution on the Ultimaker, it seems so much quieter as well. We should be taking receipt of the first batch to be shipped in October.
As a whole with Scan and Print becoming quicker, quieter and full colour, Medical grade, the list goes on, a challenge to industry is how long till we have something resembling Star Treks replicator? I think we can get close, maybe within our lifetime. I imagine the likes of NASA can see the benefits to beaming objects over to planet Mars when we need a spare part especially if the raw materials for the build could be made from local resources, think of the cost saving in terms of Kilos lifted free of Earths gravity, we coin the term “lean Space Travel”, I bet that would be a very nervous download at the other end however.