3D Printing

3D Printing Will Change Everything


3D printing has the ability to revolutionize the way we make practically everything, from guns to pastries and everything in between. Reason TV recently had the opportunity to attend Inside 3D Printing Conference and Expo, a 3-day event held in New York City.

There they met up with trailblazers in the 3D industry who were able to give them the inside-scoop on how 3D printing will revolutionize the economy.

Originally aired on April 11, 2014:

On April 4, 2014, Reason TV attended the Inside 3D Printing Conference and Expo, a three-day event held at the Jacob Javits Convention Center in New York City.
There we caught up with:

  • Hod Lipson, an engineering professor at Cornell University, who compared the excitement swirling around the 3D printing industry to what it felt like to work in the computer industry in the 1970s.
  • Brian Quan, the president of X-Object, who predicted that 3D printing will transform everything from toys to screwdrivers by making possible a "new organic creation process."
  • Aleph Objects' Harris Kenny (a former Reason Foundation policy analyst), who discussed the power of open source design and how 3D printing is allowing scientists to create cheap prosthetics and lab equipment.
  • Liz von Hasseln, the creative director of food products at 3D Systems, who demonstrated the new Chef Jet, which is the first 3D printer for pastry chefs.

For more on how 3D printing will change the economy, read Greg Beato's columnfrom the April 2014 issue ofReason magazine. 
About 7:20 minutes.
Produced by Jim Epstein; hosted by Naomi Brockwell.


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  1. Question – is it possible that technological innovation can simply outpace the regulatory state?

    1. It is not only possible, it is inevitable.

    2. It always has.

    3. The ability to actually print out apoplectic control-freak bureaucrats in three dimensions is a skill the government has long mastered, and soon you too will be able to do it in the comfort of your own home…

  2. Keep your cool. 3-D printers may end up as a common household product, but they are not likely to revolutionize the economy. Economies of scale will keep them pretty much a toy.
    A couple of decades ago, my family had a home breadmaker. It was fun, but as a serious source of bread, we had to work harder and spend more to get inferior bread.
    Same thing will apply to 3-d. You want to make a gun? Fine. But the raw material is likely to cost you more than the finished gun in the store [and that’s not counting the printer]. It will be easier to just go buy the gun, and the store gun is going to be better too. There will likely be a market for these toys because you did it yourself and such, but most of us are not going to bother.
    The 3-d printer is a nice development, but it is small beer.

    1. 3D printing tech could be useful for reproducing unavailable spare parts and prototyping.

    2. This is pretty stupid. For one thing, there was already a gun printed out of metal by sintering, and although very expense, it was actually superior to a normal gun. This isn’t a breadmaker.

      1. it was actually superior to a normal gun.


        1. Solid Concept’s gun has proved to be reliable and accurate. One of the engineers has fired 50 rounds from the gun so far and “hit a few bull’s eyes at over 30 yards”. This accuracy was undoubtedly helped by the fact that Solid Concept’s DMLS process is capable of printing rifling grooves into the inner walls of the barrel.



          1. 50 rounds is nothing for a gun dude. A reliable gun will go through thousands of rounds. It’s certainly impressive, but to say a gun which fired 50 rounds is “superior to a normal gun” is just bullshit.

            1. That’s not what I meant. I read somewhere that the sintered gun is a little bit more accurate. Some other link said they fired 1000 rounds with it.

              1. More accurate then what?

                Look, I do think 3D printing is going to change things, in a big way. But even assuming that the most optimistic predictions are true, right this moment we are still in the infancy of the technology. We’re talking about Mrs. Benz driving to Pforzheim levels. Which is very exciting as a sign of things to come, but not yet practical.

                I sure as hell won’t be trading in any of my guns for a 3d printed version any time soon.

                1. It was more accurate than the same version of the gun created by standard manufacturing.

                  1. No, it isn’t. The M1911 platform has been made by dozens of manufacturers, with varying tolerances and quality, and “able to hit a bulls-eye at 30 yards” is well within the capabilities of probably even some of the sloppier versions. A medium-to-high end M1911 would almost certainly be able to do the same thing.

                    The manufacturer’s claim is what most people generally refer to as “hype”.

                    1. A medium-to-high end M1911 would almost certainly be able to do the same thing.

                      One of the better 1911s, can’t remember the exact brand, ships every unit with a 50 yard target signed by the QA guy at the factory.

                    2. One of the better 1911s, can’t remember the exact brand, ships every unit with a 50 yard target signed by the QA guy at the factory.


                      Sintered metal is shit I would NEVER have in any stress-bearing component of a firearm.

            2. Add to that the fact that sintered metal is just weaker. It will not stand up to the kinds of stresses that a gun made by standard processes can take.

              This sintered gun has lasted 1,000 rounds – sounds like a big deal to people who don’t know guns. An H&K USP (handgun) is built to last 30,000 rounds before you might have to replace anything. And it will keep on shooting after that part is replaced.

    3. If you couldn’t make shit-tons of bread with your breadmaker, you were doing it wrong, because my parents had one and had more bread than you could possibly want. And it was good bread, too. So if that’s your analogy to 3D printers, try again.

      1. Interestingly, FDR once tried to ban sliced bread as a wartime conservation measure.

      2. Which is why everyone has breadmakers now.

        I had one and it was lame. Quantity wasn’t an issue, but quality sure was.

      3. You must have had a way better bread-maker than we did because the bread ours produced was a burden to eat. The crusts were stress tests for my teeth. The only good part was the top.

        1. I think they suck for a similar reason it’s hard to make really good bread or pizza in a normal oven, simply doesn’t get hot enough for a good crust that’s crunchy and seals in moisture. You can get a pizza stone and brick the bottom of your oven and stuff to help this. A breadmaker wont even get close to the proper temp.

      4. I had no idea there were so many people out there who couldn’t make decent bread in a breadmaker. It’s really not hard. At all. Maybe you’re all just poor with a cheap breadmaker and no cooking talent.

        1. This from a guy who puts conversation hearts and broccoli in his chili.

          1. Look, I learned it from your mom, OK? By the way, she also puts her pubic hair in her chili, so you probably had plenty as a kid.

            1. It works better as a deep-dish pizza topping, I’ll give you that.


        2. Please enlighten us. Also, please describe your ‘decent’ bread to demonstrate that you don’t just have really low standards and no feelings of pain in your gums.

    4. Speaking of small beers…many homebrewers make products superior to the pros. And many more dont.

      1. I will add tht the best way to make good bread at home is to not own a breadmaker.

        1. Breadmakers can handle the mixing and kneading but unless you have a $5000 breadmaker like Megan McArdle you want to cook it in an oven with a nice heavy ceramic pizza stone. Don’t use “all purpose” flour either.

      2. I like homebrewing – but my love for the “kits” is fading fast. I mean price ‘n’ all, it’s actually cheaper to go out and buy a quality six-pack then brew my own.

        Of course I haven’t gone all grain and really play with small batches to get the mix right – just using the kits from the local supply store.

        1. I never used kits. Even when I first started I bought extract and hops and yeast separately and made my own recipes.

        2. InBev and Grupo Modelo make far better beer than individuals and most other breweries can.

          1. Budweiser and Corona are better than any random microbrew? Srsly?

          2. Bullshit.

            Ive judged homebrew comps. There is a ton of crap, but there are lots of stuff better than their best sellers and some. better than their best. Of course, some of the latter group have gone pro.

            1. There is a ton of crap

              Can the “not-crap” amateur and small brewers consistently reproduce the exact same product?

              1. Who cares? Consistency != Quality.

                If its awesome, who cares if every batch is slightly different? Wine drinkers dont. Bourbon drinkers dont.

                I hate the term QC in industry. Horrible misnomer. It should be CC.

                1. Wine drinkers dont. Bourbon drinkers dont.

                  I don’t know how true that really is. The most popular alcoholic beverages of any type (beer, wine, liquor) are manufactured at enormous production levels and their biggest selling point is the consistency of the product.

                  Connoisseurs may revel in the subtle differences in vintages, but most drinkers don’t. And even the “super-premium” distillers go to extraordinary lengths to ensure consistency of product. Buffalo Trace is a perfect example of this.

                  I dare say you’d find it a nearly impossible task to distinguish a sip of Blanton’s from one bottle from one of another bottle.

                  I hate the term QC in industry. Horrible misnomer. It should be CC.

                  In most industries consistency is the surest sign of quality.

    5. “….to get inferior bread.”

      You were not doing it right.

    6. I’m not so sure it’ll be a common household product. Even if it later becomes as cheap as an Epson, the investment ain’t over at that point. And maybe the raw material might be cheap too, but the purveyors of the tech will find a way to milk as much money out of the consumer as possible, probably in the form of the designs since it’s unlikely the average consumer is going to be evena a CAD novice. Anyone seen or have a Cricut at the house? You can use it to cut anything as long as you fork over the money for the design first and they aren’t cheap. Completely aggravating.

  3. Most of the utopianism surrounding 3D printing always sounds rather premature dreaming to me. When the marginal costs of a custom print job at equivalent quality comes down to the marginal costs of a uniform widget produced with the benefits of economics of scale, We’ll only see changes around the fringes.

    This is ignoring the initial capital investment because of the potential for local print shops and a general reduction in cost over time for the printers proper.

    We still have a bit of a wait, and, SusanM – I’m pretty sure the regulatory state can play catch up rather easily by throwing some over broad requirements out there to bog thing down, and tie it with specifics while the first set get litigated.

    1. “By 2006, it will be clear that the internet will have as much impact on the economy as the fax machine”

      1. How are those flying cars coming

    2. Still, there’s hope. I just get the notion that whatever regs the feds cough up are getting further removed from what they’re regulating.

      I guess it could cut both ways. Certainly, the Grey-Hats over at the NSA are way ahead with the concepts that Feinstien and Co, are trying to come to grips with. I’m even willing to speculate that lawmakers and judges just can’t conceive the scope of what the NSA is up to.

  4. ‘Additive Manufacturing’ does some things very well; you can produce short-run parts with features only formerly available through casting at much lower costs. Unfortunately, even there the materials are limited.
    For those designers who cannot visualize well, it makes their mistakes cheaper (prototypes).
    I’d say it’s going to change 2-3% instead of 100%

  5. Uhh Carbon Fiber Printer

    You Luddites are going to be proven wrong.

    3D printing will, one day, revolutionize our world. Maybe not today, but we’re working with ENIAC as compared to what will be possible in the future.

    1. In the mid 80s when I got my first PC, a neighbor wanted to know why they would be a benifit. The things I showed her didnt impress her. I didnt know to say, “world wide web”.

      That was well past ENIAC but it still wasnt obvious that everyone would have one.

      1. I didnt know to say, “world wide web”.

        “AGGHHGHGAHGAHGA!!! Conquest of the Spiders!”, as she beat you over the head with a shoe.

  6. VPI – who makes some rather expensive turntables (I own their Aries model) started making a printed tonearm

    It isn’t cheap – $4k for the 10″ tonearm, $5k for the 12″

    1. Geez, can’t you just buy a 3D printer and make your own for that price?

      1. it’s audiophile magic – that’s why it costs more!

        Though I think the printer they use is some multi-$100k monster; so I imagine the high cost is due to their low volume of product that is being moved out the door.

        1. No doubt, but man.

          1. yeah, definitely not something I would buy.

            But I do see a day when someone shares a tonearm design that anyone can print up few just the price of resin.

        2. audiophile magic

          Young Earth creationists and Bigfoot veterinarians sneer at the superstition and ignorance of a strong subset of audiophiles.

  7. 3D printing will, one day, revolutionize our world.

    A tool is of little value without a skilled operator. You could give me a 3D printer, but it wouldn’t be as useful to me as an old fashioned Bridgeport mill.

    1. They were invented after threaded commenting.

  8. The world went to Hell when two tin cans and a string were no longer a high tech communication system.

  9. Gullible reporter is gullible.

    A major study has made some glaring exposure about the biggest threat on mankind i.e. deteriorating climatic conditions.

    According to the study, global warming is not a result of natural temperature changes, as commonly thought, but is due to human intervention.

    Lead investigator of the study Shaun Lovejoy and his colleagues have claimed their findings to be 99.9 percent correct.

    “This study will be a blow to any remaining climate-change deniers. Their two most convincing arguments ? that the warming is natural in origin, and that the computer models are wrong ? are either directly contradicted by this analysis, or simply do not apply to it,” Lovejoy said.

    For the study, they analyzed temperature records since 1500 and found that global warming, which started in the 1880s, is not the result of natural fluctuation of Earth’s climate cycles but it was the result of human involvement.

    Sounds legit.

    1. not a result of natural temperature changes, as commonly thought

      any remaining climate-change deniers

      Well, which one is it?

    1. I propose Kate’s boobs be declared a National Monument for their protection.

    2. Honestly, they are a too big for my liking as well. They just look silly in a lot of the swimsuits/outfits they put her in. If they dressed her in things that actually fit, or just let her go topless, they would look better. But as it stands, I’ll take Nina, Candice, or mine and my wife’s personal favorite model, Esti Ginzburg, who unfortunately doesn’t seem to do much work anymore.

  10. Kate Upton wishes she had smaller boobs

    Sounds like she needs a good mansplanation of why that is foolish.

    1. I know this article isn’t meant for reading, but I just had to laugh at this quote of hers.

      “But I actually don’t look at my character as dumb,” Upton adds. “I think of her as young and naive, like I was once.”

      1. Heh. She’s 21, and age well known for timeless wisdom.

  11. There are some grammatical mistakes in your post try to rectify them asit might give wrong impression on your blog readers. Office Paper Products

    1. Don’t talk about lUCY

  12. Kate Upton is chubby.

    1. gonna watch Long Beach?

    2. She looks a lot older than her age, which usually doesn’t lead to ageing well. Shit, I’m 30 and she looks like she could be older than me.

    3. I have never understood how anyone could seriously call her chubby.

      1. She’s not now, but you can see the chubby girl inside that’s going to come out within 10 years.

        1. Yep, some people can see ‘skinny-fat’ and others lack the gene for it.

      2. She looks almost anorexic compared to the hot chicks at, say, Mixed magazine:


        1. pron for John?

          1. Pron for me — I like darker skinned women with nice shapely larger booties.

            Dunno about John — mebbe he’s into PAWGs.

    4. Kate Upton is chubby.

      You monster.

    5. “Plus size model Kate Upton”

      If you repeat those words enough fat feminists will self-destruct like hostile computers in Star Trek.

  13. KC Suspect in Attack on Jews- taken into custody while yelling “heil Hitler”

    1. This is why you should consult with a competent defense attorney before committing a crime.

  14. Long Beach- yes. Only because the MotoGp race is over. Marques tried unsuccessfully to takes himself out on the last corner after running away with it.

    I can’t wait to see what sort of “drama” the ClownCar World Series provides. We’ll see if those monstrous shitboxes will survive standing start.

  15. She looks a lot older than her age

    With those giant floppy boobs, she looks like she could have fifteen or twenty grandchildren.

  16. If the head of the IRS says it, it must be true.

    Koskinen said the IRS could scrutinize more returns ? and collect billions more in revenue ? with more resources. The president’s budget proposal says the IRS would collect an additional $6 for every $1 increase in the agency’s enforcement budget.

    Koskinen said he makes that argument all the time, but for some reason, it’s not playing well in Congress.

    “I say that and everybody shrugs and goes on about their business,” Koskinen said. “I have not figured out either philosophically or psychologically why nobody seems to care whether we collect the revenue or not.”

    Nice. “Nobody cares if we collect the revenue.”

    I bet that guy lies awake at night fantasizing about kicking down the doors of Mom and Pop stores and tearing up the floorboards looking for hidden gold bullion.

    1. Many folks in government must dream of kicking in the door and waving around the big Dirty Harry 44 while ordering everyone to get down on the floor, and screaming out “you anti government whore”.

    2. the IRS would collect an additional $6 for every $1 increase in the agency’s enforcement budget.

      By any means necessary I’m sure. How much would we “save” if we just abolished the IRS?

    3. “Koskinen said he makes that argument all the time, but for some reason, it’s not playing well in Congress.”

      For some reason….yep, it is a complete mystery. No one understands why elected officials would not be interested in going balls-to-the-wall with theft.

  17. 3d printing……folks are going to be free to create what they want….

    On the dreadfulness of it all! Society will surely fall, look over there a cryptoxic ball, and many new kiosks in and out of the mall. Look, a 3d sign on the wall, one that Epi created that says fu($ em all, toother signs even advertising urban sprawl…..oh my such gall!!!! For 3d printers, we need to bam them all!!

  18. ClownCar boys do not disappoint.

    The best drivers in the world, give or take a few hundred.

  19. Kanaan: “Whoever* started that, it wasn’t a very smart move.”

    *Who I know very well to have been one of my former Andretti teammates, if you really want to know.

  20. Yep, OK that makes a lot of sense dude.


  21. CNC Glue Gun gonna change what?

  22. I actually have a good practical use for this technology, but cannot find anyone who is willing to help me. I have a boat part that was manufactured by a (French) company that is out of business (guess why…), and I want to have a second one made. It is a simple piece of injection-molded plastic, about 3 inches in each direction, nothing complicated or intricate, but none of the local (Florida) solid-printing places want to deal with me. Probably because I only want one copy, and don’t have a CAD drawing.

    This technology will take off when there are the equivalent to Kinko’s to do this sort of copying. No one wants to eat printed pastries (or pasties), and only someone with the need to evade detection wants a plastic gun. The rest of us are content with real metal.

    1. Just an educated guess, coming from a mechanical engineer with years of design experience : without the CAD drawing it may be very difficult to fabricate a copy that works as the original. If there are a/any hole(s) around which other parts rotate and interact with other parts of the mechanism not knowing the tolerences specified will easily result in a part which simply doesn’t work or risks ruining the rest of the mechanism over time.

      Mechanical design is a bit like sports in how, when it is done at a high level, it seems to take little effort or skill.

      1. Thanks for the comment – I am also an engineer, and understand the issues, which is also why I am not sure that the technology is really going to fly as far as its proponents say. Advances in techhology now are supported primarily by advances in materials – when you have the right material (strength, weight, thermal expansion properties, etc), you can do marvelous things. Trying to substitute printable plastic for those materials incritical applications is a sure road to serious trouble.

        In my case, there is only one important dimension (a diameter) which I have measured with a caliper mic, and it is not really a critical item or dimension (it is a plug to keep out rain). I have a hand-drawn drawing (because there are no easy/cheap home CAD packages any more) that should be sufficient to program the printer, but no one wants to talk to me.

        I will probably end up making a mold of the original plug and pouring epoxy to duplicate it.


  23. Without a doubt 3d printing will begin to revolutionize pretty much everything within the next 50 years. But when the government notices that most 3d printing resolves around open source recipes and cheap raw ingredients, they will panic at the loss of taxes. They will outlaw open source recipes (and any printer capable of using open source recipes) and will charge you based on each overall product that is created rather than the materials consumed. There will be a huge underground market for unconnected open source printers. The feds (of all nations) will wage a war on printers that will make the war on drugs seem like high school brawl.

    1. ^This and rxc’s comment above is why the tech will probably not explode in popularity as some would predict. If it ain’t the govt clamping down w/ regs, it’ll be a huge consolidation of manufacturers that restrict the supply of designs or design assistance to subscription only or pay as you go. And then for what? Help fixing a kitchen appliance or something? The ‘average person’ isn’t even a CAD novice, so they’re going to be dependent on outside help and that’s where the money will be made.

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