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NASA TO USE (GERMAN COMPANY AND) 3-D PRINTING TO BUILD NEW LAUNCH ...

Some weeks back I blogged about a newly emerging technology called three-D printing, a technique whereby blueprints or computer schematics of machined parts can be machined by special techniques using lasers, a technique that, in effect, has the potential of allowing every home to become a manufacturing plant. We'll get back to that in a moment. What interests us here is that this technique is now being considered by NASA to construct parts for its new generation of launch vehicles:

NASA's Space Launch System Using Futuristic Technology to Build the Next Generation of Rockets

There are a number of implications to all of this that I think are rather fascinating, and each of them is an indicator of how very different things are going to be in a hundred years. As I pointed out in a previous blog, and in the opening paragraph to this one, this new technology has the potential to allow each home to become its own self-contained manufacturing facility. Imagine this future: rather than going to purchase a refrigerator or a washing machine, one simply purchases the schematics, and plugs them into the 3-d printing machine, puts in some metal, and assembles a new appliance.  Minus the cost of labor, eventually this will mean cheaper household goods.We may expand this: one can also imagine home 3-D manufacture of guns, or, even more to the point, of "black market" weapons, or, to really expand on the theme, smaller manufacture facilities even for things such a space launch vehicles.  We could be looking at a technology that will, in time, open up space to a much larger human presence than currently exists, for as production proliferates, costs falls. NASA, in short, is adopting a technology that in my opinion will ultimately lead to its dissolution, or at the minimum to the rise of serious private sector competition.

But let's expand on this theme in the context of yesterday's blog about the IMF's "new" proposed solution of dealing with the toxic debt in the world financial system: government-issued debt-free money. As I noted there, such a conception relies upon two factors: (1) the over-all production of a country, since such money reflects a receipt on the goods and services - upon the productivity - of that society, and (2) upon the honest reporting of that productivity by the government issuing it.

And there's the rub: such a solution is the same-old centralization ploy that, in the context of the rise of this new technology and the potential for "ma and pa" manufacturing that it portends, would make such accurate central reporting a monumental task, if not impossibility. So, as we have the necessary debate and discussion on the system of money, we need also to bear in mind that in the end, any form of money is a command upon human labor, and that, in turn, is magnified by the technology in play.

See you on the flip side.

4 thoughts on “ NASA TO USE (GERMAN COMPANY AND) 3-D PRINTING TO BUILD NEW LAUNCH ...”

  1. Yeah, Joseph, it`s interesting you should be talking about this 3-D printing thing. I don`t understand it at all, but a lot of young guys and gals in my Kiez in Berlin seem to. They say you can make anything with it, but it is just too abstract for me to understand how it is supposed to work. Maybe you or one of your viewers can explain it to me. My german friends try, but in the end they just say, “typisch Ami”.

    1. In fact one can’t printout anything. However nearly any shape in metal or plastic can be made. But the item is one material, not two or three, and it comes out of the box unpolished.

      The idea of working with metals and plastics in the same machine is still years in the future and won’t really come to pass unless the controlled cold melting of all sorts of materials is released as publicly available technology. So no being able to simply print out a new cell phone locally is not real likely to happen. (Yes someone may choose to it as an academic project with plastics and metalized ink that hardens, but that’s not how the basic cell phone will be made in say 2032.)

      The reason aerospace companies use this technology is to make things like really complex manifolds which would be extraordinarily expensive–if not impossible–to cast and machine. But there are still huge problems polishing odd internal spaces.

      If in the future these machines can hold and manipulate individual atoms and molecules and repeat that handling trillions of times, then yes anything can be “built”. Again not in 2032.

      This 3D “printing” technology has real potential to make repeated organic forms, something that can only be done by hand now, and hand work is hard to repeat with this exactitude. Few use it for that today.

      Today if you ask people for samples of things done with a 3D printer, the samples are often items that already existed in 3 dimensions and were scanned with a 3D scanner and then printed out, say the head of toy dinosaur. In other words, few use this tech in actually useful ways.

  2. I don’t see this “3d printing” as taking over ALL production.

    After all, “materials” are not the only thing involved in cheap production; the ASSEMBLY LINE is also critical. No “home” will ever have an assembly line to produce modern appliances and devices.

    Without the assembly line, no 3d printing process could ever be anywhere near as cheap as any assembly line in the world.

    It would take most people a huge amount of time to assemble something like a refrigerator, even if they could “print’ all of the components at home. 99% of all consumers today would rather just buy a fridge. Those who cannot afford a fridge, probably would also not be able to afford a basement 3d printing facility.

    there is no doubt that 3d printing could have a huge impact. But everyone producing all of their own stuff? No way. Sure, anyone who wants to could, in theory, do it, But how many Americans do you think will skip American Idol, or Family Fued, or some football games, in order to make their own stuff???? Very, very few if you ask me.

    American society would have to change a thousandfold, no, a million-fold, before any such “home production” would ever take hold on a serious scale.

  3. When your dealing with big complex systems you’d better be prepared to control them in a decentralized way. The two should go hand in hand. However, it’s contrary to the Plutocrim’s way,
    which is: centralized right into their pockets.

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