I loved Scott Billings’ article on 3D prototyping (DW 20 September) – it brought out the space cadet in me.
However, the area is moving even quicker than the article suggested as you can buy a home Fabber (digital fabricator) right now for about £1500 and there is already a strong amateur underground movement exploring this technology.
This has striking similarities to the strong amateur movement that was building alternatives to main-frame computers in the 1980s (I wonder what happened to Steve Jobs and Steve The Letters page is sponsored by Wozniac and their funny little Apple?) and small start-ups exploring the Web in the 1990s, which ended up shaping entire markets.
For those wedded to the 20th century manufacturing paradigm, here are a few things to think about.
Any sufficiently advanced Fabber will never become obsolete, as it can update itself by making new parts. It can also replicate itself if programmed to do so – we once worked out how long it would take Fabbers to produce enough Fabbers for everyone alive today. Depending on how they were supplied and distributed, the answer came to somewhere between three and seven years.
Oh, and just one more thing. In 2003 some men in white coats put living cells into a medium to keep them alive and using a standard ink-jet printer printed out sheets of living matter. It’s all going to get very interesting.
Steve Kelsey, Strategic innovations director, PI3, London W11