Monthly Archives: January 2016

The Next Industrial Revolution

With the introduction of 3D printing in both individual lives and in industrial manufacturing, it is easy to see how it is affecting us as a species. Many people are captivated by how something can be created from what seems to be thin air. It seems as though we are on the brink of the next industrial revolution in the history of mankind.

“The first industrial revolution drove the mechanization of the textile industry. The second industrial revolution brought the assembly line. Now the digital revolution is here and one of the most powerful breakthroughs is 3D printing.”

-Business Insider

It was obvious from its inception that 3D printing was going to change the way we made objects, but not many people realized how useful it can actually be. With the introduction of many different types of filament (including basic plastics, photosensitive resins, ceramics, cements, glass, metals, metal alloys, and thermoplastic composites infused with carbon nano tubes and fibers) 3D printing can now be used as a viable alternative to conventional manufacturing processes. This is allowing 3D printing, otherwise known as additive manufacturing, to be used as a beneficial tool for making more than just plastic objects and industrial prototypes.

Additional applications for 3D printing are found all the time, including transportation assets, aerospace components, measurement devices, telecom infrastructure, and medical equipment. According to one industry CEO, the U.S. hearing aid industry converted all of it’s traditional manufacturing methods to additive manufacturing in less than 500 days. This quick transition is one of the many benefits that additive manufacturing can provide for an industry. These benefits include flexibility for change, customization, quicker set-up, fewer stages, a lower input of labor, and separate pieces can now be made in a single run. These advantages will change the way products are designed, made, bought, and delivered.

The Beginnings of a Maker?

So I am taking a class at the University of Mary Washington, for fun, called “Tinkering, Hacking, and Making”. It is a new class being offered this semester based off of a freshman seminar that has been, and still is, offered. In this class we are going to go through the process of becoming a maker and learning how to use certain tools in order to make whatever our heart’s desire, within reason. After the first week of this class I realized that I had previous knowledge about making that I didn’t know I had. I took two shop classes in middle school and learned how to work with wood, rockets, robots, and the soldering iron. I also took “Computer Systems and Architecture” two semesters ago in which I wired circuits on breadboards with my amazing partner, Kris Hooks. I have linked Kris’ review of our class here.

Breadboard from CPSC 305

It was in the second week of class that I got my first experience with 3D printing. I learned that the 3D printer feeds melted filament through the head and moves the head along the directions that are given in the .g3drem file that is given to the Dremel 3D printer. You can also choose what color filament you want your 3D object to be printed in. I found an Iron Man arc reactor on Thingiverse that I can make as a project. I would 3D print the 4 pieces and wire some LEDs in it and code them in arduino to light up in a specific pattern. However, before I can get started on this project I have to learn how to 3D print, wire LEDs, solder them together, and code in arduino. It will be a while until I can start this project but until then I can learn and attempt to master the skills that I will need for it. Also a girl can dream, right? So to begin my process of learning the skills I need for the Iron Man arc reactor, I must first learn how to 3D print. I will be posting my first experience with 3D printing when I have completed it.