Following a positive response to our last 3D printing article we were interested to read in the Telegraph this week that Amazon has filed a patent application in the US for trucks equipped with 3D printers, which will take orders online and then produce the finished item either at a customer’s door, or on the way to it.
Whilst this sounds fascinating in theory, in practice our Resident 3D Printing Geek and occasional recruiter Dan feels that this is still the stuff of science fiction. It seems he is not alone in this view. According to Dick Elsy, chief executive of the High Value Manufacturing Catapult (HVMC), the economics of mass produced 3D printing are simply not viable at present. For simple components (say a telephone handset ) the old processes (in this case injection moulding) are still the most cost effective.
Instead Elsy believes that the next logical step for 3D Printing (or Additive Layer Manufacturing if you prefer) is the premium Automotive sector. Given the current trend for expensive customization high end vehicles developments in AM technology (especially multi material) could lead to virtually infinite options.
However, Hamid Mughal, Rolls-Royce’s director of manufacturing who is on the HVMC’s supervisory board, takes a more optimistic view similar to Amazons. .
He ultimately envisages large factories being replaced by smaller more personalized printing shops at the end of every street.
As ever we would love to hear your thoughts in this exciting emerging technology.