Originally posted on MAKE:
We live in revolutionary times that some call a “new industrial revolution” – driven by the mixing of computers with manufacturing technology. By far, the all-star of this movement is the home 3D printer – as typified by the RepRap and its hundreds of derivatives. There’s a lot of great energy in the field – which is awesome. However, there’s also a lot of fluff and hype floating around the movement that is distracting from a lot of the real work that needs to be done.
Digital Manufacturing is the Real Movement
3D printing is great, but (as I say below) it’s only a small part of the solution. The real thing is much larger than any one process. It’s the digitization of manufacturing in general – from CNC milling, to factory floor automation and all the way to system-wide integration beyond today’s primitive quoting sites. By applying the ideas of software to this field: automation, abstraction, standards, etc. – you give access to a far wider group of people and create many more possibilities for solving the world’s problems.