3D Printers Will Change the World

There’s a new industrial revolution, and it’s coming in 3D.

From a Tel Aviv basement, the Reut Institute, a policy group dedicated to shaping Israeli society’s future, has set the stage for Israel’s first open-source 3D printer lab. From the XLN lab, high school students are already using PLA, a plastic-like strong material made with cornstarch, and computer programs to create and produce various products with the self-replicating printers.

Israel At The Helm Of The Next Industrial Revolution

Reut Institute Director Gidi Grinstein says that the self-replicating 3D printers will soon be found across Israel, making Israel the leader in an industrial revolution that will spread across the world. While 3D printing is impressive enough, Grinstein says this is more importantly about a network of open-source portals to create as well as learn skills for the coming new era.

For the laymen here:

• 3D here is simply a three-dimensional object designed on a computer screen.

• The computer is attached to a printer that uses PLA to instantly produce a copy of the 3D design.

• Something open-source is free and available to the public via the internet.

• Self-replicating means that a person can use one printer to then create the components for additional printers, meaning an original printer can duplicate another printer, that cloned printer can make a clone, and so on.

• Reut says it takes a week to duplicate (print) a new printer at a cost of $600 or $700 U.S. dollars.

• The 3D printer is akin to the action of a laser printer, but it uses PLA verses a laser printer’s toner -and- outputs layer upon layer of PLA until an object is formed verses a laser printer filling up a two dimensional space with pictures or words.

Reut Values Open-Source Feature

Since its 2004 beginning, Reut has worked alongside the Israeli government on a number of studies and positions, including the role of the Diaspora in modern Israel, security, the price of consumer goods, and programs to encourage Arabs, Israeli women, and disenfranchised citizens to share the effort to make Israel one of the most equitable, livable, and prosperous societies in the world. The XLN 3D printer project continues the efforts of Reut to make Israel stand out as a world leader in the coming decade.

One factor that’s been instrumental in Israel’s success thus far has been its access to technology that enables people to learn and excel. This access and availability is why the open-source feature is such an important concern for the 3D printer.

Israel Already A Leader In 3D Tech

Those familiar with Objet, the innovator of 3D technology, know that Israel is already the leader in 3D printing. In fact, Object recently merged with Stratasys, an American 3D tech company, to create a 1.4 million dollar monster. The difference here is that Object’s product is intended for high-level manufacturing purposes of delicate, sophisticated products and Reut is about accessible education and practical use; the XLN lab is making things like bottle openers and key chains. However, Reut says that enough of their machines with the right power could produce products of all shapes and sizes, even planes and cars.

3D Brings Affordable, Timely, and Easy Production Of Customizable Products

There will be tremendous value in the 3D printer for people with customized needs. Mass production is easy today, but it’s not always so simple, cost-effective, or quick when manufacturing a customized product like a prosthetic. The 3D printer changes this imbalance to make it as easy, expensive, and timely to produce a customized product as any other product.

Matan Harel, a manager at the XLN lab, says that 3D printing obviously wouldn’t be competing with mass production, but points out that mass production wouldn’t be able to compete with the low price, ease of production, and time spent when it comes to 3D to make customized products.

The 3D printer makes it possible to imagine a website where people can order customized products from XLN labs up to 95% cheaper than what’s currently available. And, Harel even envisions local printing stores that anyone can go to with a spec plan and walk out a few minutes later with that item designed to spec.

The 3D Army Of Printers

Reut is relying on the self-replicating property of the 3D printer to populate the XLN and future labs. Harel says his hope is that the lab’s existing printers can eventually grow bigger and bigger printers to scale up the size of printable objects, even to the point that the lab buildings themselves can be printed.

3D printer is ideal for T-shirt printing. You just have to imagine the 3D image you want and your T-shirt will be created.

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