I was reading through Rifkins book Zero Marginal Cost Society and I came to a spot where he was describing 3d printing. In the book, alhtough its from 2014, he takes it to the the limit on this subject. Its cleary a deep interest for him. So little gems get thrown out or reminded. Stuff like 3d printers printing their own replacement parts. Even if you know 3d printers could reproduce themselves by printing another 3d printer there is still something strangely exciting about this prospect. Suddenly parts are software or “bits are are the new atoms.” Then he goes on and talks about additive manufacturing being almost waste free where traditional subtractive manufacturing tends to waste 9/10ths of input material. Also about how this printing revolution is is moving quite quickly in part because its been based on a the creative commons.
But still I was kind of so-so because Star Treck replicators seem a long ways off and I kept thinking that it would still be a chemical mess kind of like messy color printer and kept visualizing inks needing to be made of nano bots etc. But then he brought up this firm that has printed 13 of the 50 machines that would be needed to start society over from the ground up. This group is working their way through the rest of the machines on a creative commons basis of course. This incuded bull dozers and back hoes. SuddenlyI could see it. In my mind suddenly I could see a qualitative leap. If a useable earth mover was going to be printed then it couldn’t be made out legos. All the doubts about local 3d printing not being able to replace 5 billion dollar chip fabs and all that is suddenly in a different light.