The Next Big Thing
Posts about next generation technologies and their effect on business.

3D printer on ISS

3d printing.pngI mentioned a while back that space exploration and 3D printing were a match made in heaven. Earlier this month, astronauts on the International Space Station received their long anticipated Made in Space Zero-G 3D printer.

 

This is not just your standard 3D printer, it was tested by NASA with over 20,000 print hours of testing. It performed so well that tests were completed early, allowing the printer to be delivered ahead of time. 

 

This article covers the goals of the 3D printer installation in more detail.

Tags: 3D| 3D printing
Labels: 3D| 3D printing

Spoke at the HP World Tour in Mexico City

This week I had the chance to present at the HP World Tour 2014 on the topic of Defining your journey into the future. Essentially talking about many the topics I post about on this blog -- the fact that there is a great deal of change going on and for much of it you can actually predict what could happen and ideas on how to start to take control for your business.

 

There are a number of YouTube videos (from various speakers) out there from this event with interviews like this one on Software Defined Networks – a topic I have a great deal of interest in applying. By the way, 'no' that isn't me.

 

 

 

One of the best things about an event like this is there are a number of parts of HP represented and so if you have a question, there should be someone there who will have an answer.

 

I know I got into a fairly deep discussion about the implications of security assessments and what can and can’t be done today with the software and techniques available to protect data and prevent intrusions.

 

I also had a chance to talk to a leader in the 3D printing space where we discussed where things are headed and the implications on various markets and industries. As well as who from HP may provide some useful perpsective on the topic.

 

The event is very much like a mini HP Discover except hopefully a bit closer and more intimate. The tour site shows other upcoming session in the Americas in Toronto and San Paulo Brazil. There are other events across the globe listed as well.

Recent 3D printing advances

3d printed art.jpgFunny how life can play with you. I wrote a blog post about time and how we all get the same amount every day and then I go for a whole week without the time to post again. So I better get back at it…

 

I've blogged about 3D printing many times before but have been giving the process quite a bit of thought this week. There are some pretty interesting innovations and applications of 3D printing coming about.

 

Some of the recent activities:

  1. Adobe expanding the 3D capabilities of Photoshop CC.
  2. Hershey talking about having a 3D printer (for chocolate!)
  3. Microsoft’s 3D builder application for Windows 8.1 in the apps store

show how various capabilities are advancing.

 

Some of these announcements are likely fallout and response to the 3D vendors at the CES earlier this month or preparation for the 3D Printer World Expo at the end of this month.

 

Although the 3D printing space is definitely the domain of specialists today, there are numerous innovations that are making it easier to use and more reliable. Since additive and subtractive manufacturing techniques are being applied to the creation of the printers themselves, this is a market with incredible price pressure as well as continuous innovation – that may confuse others.

 

By the way the picture is a 3D piece of desk art that I printed on my 3D printer. It's about an inch and a half across.

3D printing in space – an example of agility

space station.pngI’ve written before about the alignment of 3D printing and space exploration. I just saw the news that NASA is preparing their first 3D printer for space. This makes a great deal of sense to me since anyone who has seen Apollo 13 knows that sometimes things need to be cobbled together to meet the needs of the moment and the only things the astronauts can use are those that came with them.

 

There still is quite a bit of confusion about what 3D printing really can do, as you can tell if you read this post about the announcement. I doubt they will be printing anything more complicated than a framework for holding satellite hardware (as opposed to the whole satellite, the way the article states).

 

I view this approach as analogous to what businesses are trying to do looking to adopt a new style of IT. They are trying to be more agile in how they can address the needs of the day, without having the same level of investment as needed in the past.

 

Bits, atoms and logistics

cloud factory.pngMany times when we think about 3D printing, we think about it in the garage or kitchen. Incrementally, the next big thing is likely the merger of cloud computing, additive manufacturing and logistics.

 

Anyone who has experimented with 3D printing (at least with low end devices) knows that it is full of trial and error and at least as many failures as successes. That is not a recipe for consumer success.

 

On the other hand, I can easily see the use of cloud computing techniques and modern logistics to merge into a specialized manufacturing facility (that have the experts and techniques to drive out the variability), who  can quickly ship just about anything that can be 3D printed quickly, in volume, just about anywhere. If done at a logistics hub (e.g., Memphis), some interesting possibly can develop, since you'll be moving the atoms more efficiently.

 

They can provide product lifecycle management functionality as well.

 

As the quality of 3D printing devices increase, the need for these specialized facilitates may decrease but I doubt we’ll see that anytime soon.

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About the Author(s)
  • Steve Simske is an HP Fellow and Director in the Printing and Content Delivery Lab in Hewlett-Packard Labs, and is the Director and Chief Technologist for the HP Labs Security Printing and Imaging program.
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The opinions expressed above are the personal opinions of the authors, not of HP. By using this site, you accept the Terms of Use and Rules of Participation.