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National Lab Working To Mix Metals and Polymers For 3D Printing 65

Lucas123 writes "Scientists at the Lawrence Livermore National Lab are trying to expand 3D printing to include mixed materials at the same time, such as polymers and metals. With those advances, a company could build, for example, body armor for soldiers that are stronger and lighter. If their work pans out, they'll create materials that have properties that simply don't exist today."
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National Lab Working To Mix Metals and Polymers For 3D Printing

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  • by gurps_npc ( 621217 ) on Friday January 17, 2014 @04:56PM (#45991019) Homepage
    Actually the article was about finding ways to build weapons because we already use 3d printing to build medical devices cheaply. [] []
  • Re:No (Score:3, Interesting)

    by erebus2161 ( 3441365 ) on Friday January 17, 2014 @05:16PM (#45991215)
    Your comment just demonstrates you don't actually understand how economies of scale work. The reason things get cheaper the more you make and sell is because of all the costs that go into producing an item that aren't directly involved in the manufacturing process as well as costly aspects of the manufacturing process that 3D printing eliminates. First we have design. 3D printing doesn't affect this at all, however it is one of the costs that is reduced per item in an economy of scale. Which means 3D printing does scale and invalidates your argument right off the bat. Second we have the manufacturing process. This usually involves specialized equipment, like molds for plastic components or custom robotics for assembly. Producing that equipment is a cost that must be recouped with the sale of the item. The more items you produce and sell, the more the cost can be distributed. 3D printing eliminates this cost. Instead we just have one general piece of manufacturing equipment which can be distributed among the entire manufacturing community. Third, there's the cost of human labor which is significantly reduced by 3D printing. Finally, there's the costs of defects. If there's a 10% chance of an item being defective, producing 10 means one will be defective on average and the cost of that one item can be distributed in the sale price of the other 9. But if you only produce one and that one is defective you must produce a second one that now costs twice as much in order to recoup the cost of the defective one instead of 10/9ths the price. So, 3D printing does scale, but not as much as ordinary manufacturing, but that's OK because it is cheaper than ordinary manufacturing even at scale.
  • Re:Weapons, armor (Score:5, Interesting)

    by mlts ( 1038732 ) on Friday January 17, 2014 @05:57PM (#45991673)

    The ironic thing is that the first time I heard about 3D printing, over 10 years ago (it was called stereolithography), was to produce prototype parts for IV roller valves for hospitals. After that, it was used for short runs of parts, replacements for things that have long since stopped being made, and other niche markets.

    The pursuit of guns came a lot later when the technology came out of the factories.

    With accurate 3D printing, we can make circuit boards as an integral part of a product. It might not be useful for large-scale production, but there are likely some objects where having the ability to not have to assemble something and have no weak seams or welds might be of great use. A seamless Faraday cage comes to mind. Perhaps a bottle for highly compressed gas?

    I think part of adopting a technology is how it appeals to some peoples' banal nature. A lot of people love pr0n, so it propelled the Internet into homes. Printing out a firearm of questionable use got 3D printing on the map. Paranoia got solar adopted by both the right wing and left wing in the US.

    There are a lot of uses for 3D printing. I'm probably going to wind up with a Makerbot so I can prototype a few lock mechanisms. If they actually work, then I will moved to sintered Iconel for the key and the lock. After that, hand some of the locks to the local locksport group and Youtube SPP people and see if the lock passes the real world muster. That way, if it actually is something pick resistant, I can always state an average time a pro can open the lock, rather making vague "unpickable" claims.

Today is the first day of the rest of your lossage.