There's been one of those "quiet developments" in the world of 3-d printing, or "additive manufacturing" as it's sometimes called, that is well worth pondering. It occurred in Australia. and was shared with us by Mr. K.L.:

3D printing: Australian researchers create jet engine, breakthrough captures attention of Airbus and Boeing

There are so many things to notice in this article it's difficult to know where to begin, but I want  to point out this biological and surgical possibility(especially in the wake of yesterday's head transplant blog):

"For example, if you're unfortunate enough to have one of those serious car accidents, you can be scanned in the scanner, that information can then be taken to a 3D printer, and while you're on the operating table we can print those precise body parts you might need."

So: benefit number one: three-d-printing can literally manufacture body parts, using DNA donor material from the donor him- or her-self.

This is coupled to (2) quick-turn-around times:

"Getting spare parts is not easy – it can take quite a lot of time. What we can do is turn these parts around very quickly."

Forget about waiting for that spare body part, that organ transplant from the donors' list, or that spare jet engine part to be shipped from Singapore: if you have the printing schematic and requisite material, just print it right there. What this leads to is

(3) Dramatically lower labor and transportation costs.

But all of the above advantages are further coupled with something new, here, and this is where we're approaching the high octane part:

"The breakthrough opens the door for engineers to make and test parts in days instead of months.

"'[In the past you had to] melt, mould, carve and turn to get the final product,' said Professor Ian Smith, Monash University's vice-provost for research.

"'This way we can very quickly get a final product, so the advantages of this technology are, firstly, for rapid prototyping and making a large number of prototypes quickly.

"'Secondly, for being able to make bespoke parts that you wouldn't be able to with classic engineering technologies.'

"Professor Smith said he believed Monash was well placed to take advantage of the technology because the university made the materials as well as printing the parts."

Note what's really being said here: (1) prototyping turnaround is much faster with 3d printing, lowering manufacturing costs even further; (2) it is possible to manufacture things via 3D printing that simply cannot be made, or made only with difficulty, using standard current methods of machining, which are all subtractive methods(rather than 3D printing's additive method), and (3) the capability of 3D printing has now advanced sufficiently and to the point that the precise tolerances necessary in precision manufacture of equipment such as jet engines is now within practical capability.

Stop and ponder that last point for a minute. Today, right now, it is possible to manufacture jet engines with the process. Such capabilities are, of course, for the present, restricted to the expensive commercial and large scale printers available to corporations and universities. The three-D printers available for home use currently are akin to the Commodore "home computers" of the 1980s...

And that's my point. We've come a long way from the Commodore home computer. Yesterday's game-playing curiousity is today's essential, for everything from communcations to (in my case at least), the necessary equipment and technology for publishing and research.

And that means today's "widget" and "pencil holder cup" 3-d printing toy is tomorrow's "home manufacturing plant," enabling you to dial up and download that spare part for your car, or, for that matter, to dial up Detroit, download, and print your new car. Car dealerships will increasingly deal with used, rather than new cars, and used cars will have a new lease on life with 3D printed spare parts, possibly driving the price of the horirbly overpriced new vehicles down. For that matter, why bother with buying the latest new model from Detroit at all, when you could dial up, download, print, and drive your favorite 1931 Dusenberg? Can you imagine the effect on society? Commercial transport - the shipping of "parts" or finished goods by train, truck, or ship - might conceivably diminish dramatically, leaving the raw materials themselves to constitute the bulk of commercial transport. Actual physical transportation will consist, perhaps, of more leisure transport than that of finished goods. Manufactured finished parts - just as Pratt and Whitney jet engines - might be manufactured in private garages by "certified manufacturers" with a license to do so from a "non-traditional school", and so on.

Austraila just gave us a glimpse of the future, perhaps not one that those of us in our 50s or 60s will see in full flower, but one that we can already project, based on past experience with the computer.

See you on the flip side...

Posted in

Joseph P. Farrell

Joseph P. Farrell has a doctorate in patristics from the University of Oxford, and pursues research in physics, alternative history and science, and "strange stuff". His book The Giza DeathStar, for which the Giza Community is named, was published in the spring of 2002, and was his first venture into "alternative history and science".


  1. Enlil's a Dog on March 11, 2015 at 10:37 am

    “Actual physical transportation will consist, perhaps, of more leisure transport than that of finished goods”.

    Or, alternatively one might just be able to 3-D print one’s self to the other side of the world 🙂

  2. Robert Barricklow on March 10, 2015 at 4:55 pm

    I can’t help but think of that other technology of “yesterday” that was in its infancy around 1993. And the came Crime Inc. in the form of porn. And the market played catch-up in a fast & furious fashion.
    Well, lets get the terms a little more precise. The software does all the work, which is why it’s more appropriate to think of the process as “infotacture” rather than the dated manufacture. So we have “additive infofacturing.

    So enter stage left: the street thugs, Peeping Toms, narco-cartels, terrorists, and the rest of the usual suspects who will surely accelerate this #-D process as their functionality improves and their prices drop in response to incredible new and complementary technologies. It’s a given that IoT, open-source and additive infofacturing are the foundation of the new industrial revolution. Today most 3-D printing can print more than 50% of the parts required to make another 3-D printer/that % is rapidly expanding.
    The first area criminals will pursue in the world of 3-D printing is intellectual property theft[take that Hollywood and put it up…]. Music, video games, and software programs/Gucci handbags, Carier watches ect. …in the future these objects will easily be subjected to ultrahigh-resolution 3-D scanning and printing making copies visually every bit as good as the original. Or take a burglar/stalker who takes a high-resolution picture of your home or office keys that you casually left or took out of your pockets of purse. Services like KeyMe make duplicate keys via the 3-D printing marketplace Shapeways. IEDs. Need parts for uranium centrifuges in Iran?

    The old paradigms of national borders, guards, gates, and tall fences may well become outdated as technology develops much more rapidly than our security mechanisms/the new normal that will be further exacerbated by a hosts of new science-fiction-like technologies, we at this site, comment on regularly.

    • Guygrr on March 11, 2015 at 7:32 am

      It all comes back to the problem lying in the individual. However if you have printers that are “always online”, to borrow the term used in the video game industry, that won’t print otherwise then the infrastructure could retain control. If someone then tries to print something naughty the ban hammer from on high comes down, *printer self destructs*, problem solved. Of course the process could be spoofed or hacked, but that’s one way to do it.

      • Robert Barricklow on March 11, 2015 at 7:53 am

        And the race is on…

  3. DownunderET on March 10, 2015 at 1:37 pm

    I think we are going to have to wait quite a while until this technology “comes of age”, in other words like all technologies, there is a bedding in period. However down the line, and you can imagine in 50 years, will 3D printing, itself, maybe obsolete. So for now lets just see what can be achieved for the good of man. I think the only down side would be 3D printing of rockets, bombs, ammunition, guns and knuckle dusters…..oops, I think they have already though of that.

  4. Lost on March 10, 2015 at 12:55 pm

    I recognize the machine doing the laser sintering, it would take several days and to print out a rough jet engine, which would still need fine finishing to work.

    It’s really really far away from being able to print out spare car parts, for example, in expensively.

  5. marcos toledo on March 10, 2015 at 10:39 am

    I have DISH and my cousin has Direct TV satellite cable service. I am using this as a example whenever there is severe weather the service goes down. You bet your last penny this does not happen to the military. The same will happen with Three D Printing for the masses Super-Sparta will get the good stuff and we the trash. War Is A Racket and the profits are rolling in. Just hoping that some benefits from this emerging technology will reach the rest of us. Oh thank you Facebook for connecting me to this website so I could view and comment on todays post.

  6. Sophia on March 10, 2015 at 9:40 am

    What happens when people try to print Rossi e-cat free energy machines? Or oscillator crystals and defraction gratings for phase conjugate howitzers?

    Makes me think of Rush’s Ayn Rand–inspired concept album 2112.

  7. loisg on March 10, 2015 at 9:28 am

    So… this how they plan to manufacture UFO type aircraft in a much cheaper fashion? And more quickly? And keep it hidden by the fact that ordinary Joe manufacturing these parts in his garage has no idea what the parts are being used for?

  8. justawhoaman on March 10, 2015 at 8:48 am

    Google CNC machines. I saw an experimental aircraft engine (the size of a ROTAX motor) built by an Aussie engineer at the EAA Airshow in Oshkosh in 2002. There was a lot of interest in this engine as the idea of machining engine parts out of large blocks of metal was relatively new at that time. I am confident that these machines have gotten a heck of a lot more sophisticated since I also sat in a dentist’s office in about 2006 and watched a porcelain tooth being made for my mouth that perfectly matched what used to be there. I would bet about anything you can imagine are being produced in private machine shops… legally or not.

  9. DanaThomas on March 10, 2015 at 6:50 am

    Some day these innovations might have the consequences stated here but the question is when, how or if, the system will shift from a mainly vertical hierarchy to a more horizontal model.
    However there are doubts not only regarding changing of hierarchies in the material aspect of manufacturing but also – and maybe above all – in the finance-related hierarchies in key sectors.
    As you mentioned, the current 3d printers available on the mass market are practically antiques compared to the state of the art, 30 years old.
    They are talking about a “trickle-down” effect of these innovations, but they are asserting the same for “quantitative easing” when nothing actually “trickles down” to society as a whole. I can make a “widget” at home but things like air travel require extensive infrastructures and expertise, and are thus more easily controlled, often under the false guise of “market factors”. When will this sector, not to mention innovative medical treatments etc. actually “trickle down” to the rest of us (i.e. become widely affordable)?

    • Robert Barricklow on March 10, 2015 at 4:26 pm

      Good question.
      A number of “experts” believe the answer lies in “IoT”[Internet if Things}.
      The technology platforms of the 1st & 2nd Industrial Revolutions were designed to be centralized top-down command & control. That was due in par to “fossilized fuels” that required a centralized management to move from underground to the final product. The centralized energy, in turn required centralized, vertically integrated forms of communication in order to manage the momentous speeding up in commercial transactions made possible by new sources of power. The enormous capital costs in establishing centralized communication/energy matrices. To cut to the chase; the only way to achieve this giant, vertically integrated operation across the value chain was through monopolies/oligopolies.
      This prevented start-up companies from introducing even newer technologies to reduce marginal costs. Again cur to the chase. The emergence of the IoT infrastructure of the 3rd Industrial Revolution, with its open architecture and distributed features[3-D], allowed social enterprises and the collective commons to break away from the monopoly economical straightjacket by enabling peer production in laterally scaled continental and global networks at near zero cost. The core of the IoT operating system is the coming together of the communications internet, energy internet, & logistics internet in a cohesive operating platform.

  10. basta on March 10, 2015 at 6:35 am

    Just what sort of strength do these printed parts have vis-a-vis normal manufacture? I find it extremely, and I repeat, extremely, hard to believe a printed fanjet turbine can withstand the stresses of use, let alone being dropped. Static, shear and centrifugal forces in different situations cannot be met with a printed part that has no inherent strength imparted by its manufacturing process.

    If I were a knight, I would not want to go into battle with a 3D-printed greatsword; it would snap off with the first good whack. I want a hand-worked steel blade, thank you very much.

    • Lost on March 10, 2015 at 1:03 pm

      I’m pretty sure the jet turbine blades made with an EOS machine (in the picture) can withstand the stresses of engine use.

      I have no idea if these blades for the jet are then tempered, say in a bath of molten salt, after being sintered together.

  11. unclejed on March 10, 2015 at 5:37 am

    Yes, I recall in 1980 I purchased a Tandy TRS-80 microcomputer. 4K ram and 4K rom and software on a cassette tape! And I know people who have had 3D printed parts for their classic car restorations. Oh the times they are a changing!

  12. kitona on March 10, 2015 at 5:17 am

    I still have a hard time envisioning 3d printing as a common household occurrence as I just can’t imagine that most people want to produce car parts at home (or anywhere else for that matter). Having said that, yes, the technology could be massively disruptive in terms of distribution via transportation. Large factories would seem to become dinosaurs, replaced by local/regional manufacturers (producers) who could offer near-bespoke services via a mass customization process. Kind of like how you can now order sneakers in custom colors with your initials stitched on them from Nike or Adidas at minimal cost.

    Also, I skeptical that government & corporate authorities would even allow 3d printing at home. The idea that you could print a gun or even a nuke bomb will freak them out.

Help the Community Grow

Please understand a donation is a gift and does not confer membership or license to audiobooks. To become a paid member, visit member registration.

Upcoming Events