One area I can think of is custom signs and graphics. You could have a
whole library of clip art images and custom text fonts ready for someone to
pick out or create a design and then quickly cut them out using a laser.
There are 5-axis lasers where you could carve out someone's image from a
digital picture in foamboard or other material. To quote Brock Hinzmann, a
"personal factory" store which you could locate in the malls. Kind of a
Spencer's Gifts for personal custom items.
>This is a short summary of a development in a related field. Some people
>not think of this as "true 3D manufacturing," but I hope it's interesting
>Associated Press recently reported (see Boston Globe 6/2) that bookstores
>such as Borders Group Inc. are working with a company called Sprout in
>to provide consumers with the option of "instant paperbacks" (claiming
>15 min). This is apparently an effort to increase customer service and
>(encouraged by web-based competition) without the tremendous costs of
>stocking low-volume titles.
>Of course we can't know whether this effort will be successful. Right now,
>can't think of another commercial venture which is closer to realizing true
>"rapid manufacturing" for the masses. Though there are both differences
>parallels, I'd like to suggest one fundamental which may be interesting to
>"listers" thinking about "RM." Specifically, this high speed 3D
>manufacturing is limited to the production of objects from a special
>"library." It avoids the data acquisition and processing complications of
>Beyond the world of publishing, I wonder what types of parts might first
>themselves to rapid manufacture by machines which are specifically designed
>for this type of production - where all operations and "toolpaths"
>(subtractive/additive - whatever) are prepared only one time, to be
>by many individual fabricators on a royalty basis? [The "instant product"
>would not have to be indistinguishable from the factory-produced product.
>would merely have to fulfill the function of satisfying the user needs - as
>for quick replacement of a failed part.]
>781 444 6910
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