[rp-ml] Nano/fabber politics

From: Marshall Burns (MB-ListMail2@Ennex.com)
Date: Sun Aug 07 2005 - 08:47:47 EEST

> While the NNI was started by the Clinton administration,
> make no mistake. It is very popular with both of the major
> political parties. The Bush administration has certainly

        Right. When I said political, I didn't mean partisan. Clinton's
staff pushed it for the economic stimulus and the looking-good factor.
That's what I meant by political. Bush's staff stuck with it, and even
boosted it, for the same reasons.

> The nanolobbyists argued that
> nanotech would have a $1 trillion impact on the U.S.
> economy and nobody challenged their numbers.
> ...
> The question is, can you make the case that RP or fabbing
> will make a $1 trillion difference in the economy.


        The trillion-dollar figure touted for nanotech is the projected size
of the "market ... within a decade or so ... in products that carry
nano-components, including all computer chips, half of pharmaceuticals and
half of chemical catalysts."
[http://www.smalltimes.com/document_display.cfm?document_id=4570] This funny
statistic is a devious way of taking credit for a huge amount of value that
would be there anyway. The increment of value brought about by use of the
"nano-components" is unstated and is maybe on the order of 10%, a still not
shabby $100 billion.

        According to the latest Economic Census by the US Department of
Commerce, hard-goods manufacturing is a $3 trillion industry, including
automobiles, aircraft, computers, furniture, toys, medical equipment,
consumer products, office equipment, etc.

        If an initiative were set in place to ensure that every high school
and college student had some access to 3-D CAD and fabbers in their schools
and took at least one class in how to use them, then I would venture to say
that within a decade or so, the market in products that had been designed in
3-D CAD and either prototyped or directly manufactured on fabbers would be
at least $1 trillion.

        But in this case, the increment in value brought about by the
increased use of CAD and fabbers would be much greater than 10% of this
total. We all know from experience in our industry that CAD and fabbers can
take 25%, 50%, or even 90% out of the development time and cost of a new
product. They can also inspire new products that could not have existed in
industrial manufacturing.

        Access to computers by high-school and college students (e.g. Bill
Gates, Marc Andreesen) gave rise to the personal computer revolution and
soon thereafter the Internet revolution. An analogous revolution in
hard-goods manufacturing would make the Internet look like a firecracker,
totally reinventing the entire $3 trillion industry.

        The real trillion-dollars impact of nanotech is not in
"nano-components," but in molecular manufacturing, which is actually a
future generation of digital fabrication, perhaps 20 to 50 years away for
significant commercial implementation. Today's generation of fabbers have
the ability to have a trillion-dollars impact in a much shorter time frame.


(PS, Brock and I should get the uber-geek award for debating nano/fabber
politics on a Saturday night!)

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