Motion Control in Southern Africa Motion Control in Southern Africa South African Fluid Power Assocation
   
 








 
 

The web is dead and 3D manufacturing
2nd Quarter 2011, News & events


The web is dead

The cover of the August 2010 issue of Wired magazine proclaimed, ‘The web is dead’. Here is my summary. A decade ago the web browser was the focus. It seemed inevitable that the web would replace operating systems and PC software. The open world wide web was free but it was out of control. Now simpler, more effective closed applications or apps are what everyone is using: iPad, Facebook, Twitter, Skype, Netflix and podcasts.

The big shift has been from the wide open web to semi-closed platforms that use the Internet for transport, but not the browser for display. This is driven by the rise of the smartphone for mobile computing. This is what consumers are choosing because the information comes to them; they do not have to find it. It is easier for consumers to use, and easier for suppliers to make money.

Today content seen via a browser accounts for 25% less Internet traffic than a decade ago. The applications that account for most traffic are: e-mail, peer-to-peer file transfers, VPNs, machine-to-machine communications, Skype, online games, iTunes, voice-over-IP phones, iChat, and Netflix movie streaming. Most of these Internet applications are closed and proprietary.

The shift is accelerating. Within three to five years, the number of users accessing the net from mobile devices will surpass access from PCs. Because screens are smaller, mobile traffic tends to be driven by specialty software, mostly apps designed for a single purpose. People will use the Internet but not web browsers.

Much as people like freedom and choice, they also like things that work fast, reliably and seamlessly. And they pay for what they like. Have you looked at your cellphone bill lately?

The 3D manufacturing revolution

The industrial revolution of the late 18th century brought the mass production of goods and created economies of scale which changed society in ways that nobody could have imagined at the time. Now a new manufacturing technology is emerging which does the opposite. Three-dimensional printing makes it as cheap to create single items as it is to produce thousands. It will have as profound an impact on the world as the factory did.

Most of today’s manufacturing is subtractive – it trims chunks of material to required shapes – cutting, grinding, shaving. Then the parts are assembled into final products. 3D printing is an additive manufacturing technology. A 3D printer works by using a computer to create a series of cross-section slices. Each slice is then printed one on top of the other to create the 3D object.

The additive approach to manufacturing cuts costs by getting rid of production lines. It reduces waste enormously, requiring as little as one tenth of the amount of material. It enables the production of a single item quickly and cheaply. Parts can be created in shapes that cannot be achieved with conventional techniques, resulting in new, much more efficient designs.

Parts and assemblies can be made of several materials with different mechanical and physical properties in a single build process. It is as cheap to create single items as it is to produce thousands, so it undermines economies of scale.

3D printing is already competitive with plastic injection moulding for runs of up to 1000 items, and this number will rise as the technology matures. Because each item is created individually, each one can be made slightly differently at almost no extra cost. Mass production could give way to mass customisation for all kinds of products.

Today, the 3D process is possible only with plastics, resins and some metals, with a precision of around a tenth of a millimetre. It is currently used by hobbyists and in a few academic and industrial niches. However, since 2003 there has been large growth in the sale of 3D printers. A basic 3D printer, also known as a fabricator or ‘fabber’, now costs less than a laser printer did in 1985. 3D printing is spreading fast. The technology will improve and costs will fall.

The beauty of 3D technology is that it does not need to happen in a factory. Small items can be made by a machine like a desktop printer in any corner.

Nobody could have predicted the impact of the printing press in 1450, the steam engine in 1750, or the transistor in 1950. It is impossible to forecast the long term impact of 3D printing. But the technology is coming, and it is likely to cause a significant disruption. This will be a major inflection point of progress.

Jim Pinto is an industry analyst and commentator, writer, technology futurist and angel investor. His popular e-mail newsletter, JimPinto.com eNews, is widely read (with direct circulation of about 7000 and web-readership of two to three times that number). His areas of interest are technology futures, marketing and business strategies for a fast-changing environment, and industrial automation with a slant towards technology trends.

www.jimpinto.com


Share via email        

Further reading:

  • Bosch Rexroth to acquire 50% of Hytec Group
    2nd Quarter 2014, Hytec (Afripower), News & events
    Bosch Rexroth plans to acquire a 50% share in its sales partner, Hytec Holdings, a wholly owned subsidiary of the Tesuco Group. Hytec Holdings generated sales of almost R1 billion in the 2013/2014 fiscal ...
  • A sea change
    2nd Quarter 2014, Technews Publishing, News & events
    Machines are talking I am starting to hear more and more about the fourth industrial revolution and it looks like a sea change is underway. In Europe it is known as Industry 4.0, while GE coined the ...
  • Vital equipment for the NSRI
    2nd Quarter 2014, SEW-Eurodrive, News & events
    SEW-Eurodrive has been sponsoring drive equipment for the National Sea Rescue Institute (NSRI) for many years and has supplied several of the stations with SEW inverters and geared motors. The NSRI, the ...
  • Schneider’s new growth strategy
    2nd Quarter 2014, Schneider Electric South Africa, News & events
    Schneider Electric recently held a media forum and networking session where country president, Eric Léger presented the company’s strategy for southern Africa and introduced the new management team. Léger ...
  • The factory of the future
    2nd Quarter 2014, Festo, News & events
    Festo recently hosted its first online press conference in South Africa at its Isando offices, giving an exclusive preview of the company’s latest innovations in automation showcased at the 2014 Hanover ...
  • New agency for Pneumax
    2nd Quarter 2014, News & events
    Pneumatics and automation company, Pneumax, has acquired the agency for Lanbao Sensors in South Africa. These sensors range from inductive proximity through to opto electronic. Lanbao is a prominent industrial ...
  • Engen brings new lube oil to Zambia
    2nd Quarter 2014, News & events
    Engen, the downstream petroleum products company with operations in 15 African and Indian Ocean Island countries, is taking its Dieselube 500 Super 15W-40 lubricating oil into Zambia. Andre de Wet, managing ...
  • New mechatronic division for Bonfiglioli
    2nd Quarter 2014, Bonfiglioli, News & events
    Bonfiglioli has further consolidated its unique market position in the industrial power transmission market with the creation of the Industrial Drives & Solutions Division (MDS). The MDS mission is to ...
  • Donaldson Endurance becomes Donaldson Blue
    2nd Quarter 2014, Donaldson Filtration Systems, News & events
    The rebranding of Donaldson Endurance to become Donaldson Blue and a product line expansion unite all premium Donaldson filter technologies under a single Donaldson Blue brand. The Donaldson Blue line ...
  • Pneumax is moving
    2nd Quarter 2014, News & events
    Pneumax is relocating to new upgraded and modern offices on 01 July 2014. Located less than 9 km away from the company’s current location, the new offices are conveniently situated close to the highway ...
  • Faster visits Hydrasales
    2nd Quarter 2014, Hydrasales, News & events
    Faster SRL’s Africa export manager, Nicola Salvagio recently visited Hydrasales. He conducted training on the latest range of Faster Multifaster blocks and the range of couplers in the FFH and FHV series. ...
  • Green warehousing logistics
    2nd Quarter 2014, SEW-Eurodrive, News & events
    The theme for this year’s PneuDrive Challenge is green warehousing logistics. SEW-Eurodrive marketing and communications manager, Rene Rose explains: “Students have to identify and analyse specific ...

 
 
 
Search...

Motion Control Buyers' Guide

         
 
Contact:
Technews Publishing (Pty) Ltd
1st Floor, Stabilitas House
265 Kent Ave, Randburg, 2194
South Africa
Publications by Technews
Dataweek Electronics & Communications Technology
Electronic Buyers Guide (EBG)

Hi-Tech Security Solutions
Hi-Tech Security Business Directory

Motion Control in Southern Africa
Motion Control Buyers’ Guide (MCBG)

South African Instrumentation & Control
South African Instrumentation & Control Buyers’ Guide (IBG)
Other
Terms & conditions of use, including privacy policy
PAIA Manual





 

 
             
   
      Classic | Mobile

Copyright © Technews Publishing (Pty) Ltd. All rights reserved.