3D printing alone can’t change the world, can with other technologies

Credit: BBC
Credit: BBC

Neil Gershenfeld at MIT’s Centre for Bits and Atoms works with cutting edge technologies. He says the hype has gotten ahead of reality on 3D printing because it needs other technologies too, it can’t change the world on its own.

More useful, he says, is a computer-controlled laser cutter, a numerically-controlled milling machine for making big parts, a sign cutter, a precision milling machine and programming tools for low-cost high-speed embedded processors.

So 3D printing is not—according to one of the prophets of the new personal manufacturing age—going to change the world on its own.

Nevertheless, something is up. Professor Gershenfeld says that it’s the suite of digital machines that in his words “blows up industry”.

One goal is to create devices that can assemble other things, whether these be nanobots in the body or huge devices that assemble buildings.