Re: [rp-ml] Nano/fabber politics

From: Brock Hinzmann (
Date: Mon Aug 08 2005 - 19:53:02 EEST

>Sorry, the item below didn't get posted to the list.


>-----Original Message-----
>From: Brock Hinzmann []
>Sent: Sunday, August 07, 2005 10:17
>To: Marshall Burns
>Subject: Re: [rp-ml] Nano/fabber politics
>Pity the poor people who wake up their computers on Monday
>morning to find this debate. But it's a friendly debate.
>I basically agree with Marshall's assessment of
>nanoeconomics. In many cases, the nano contribution should
>be less than 10 percent. The idea is to decrease the cost
>of things. Most of the items cited were already in
>research as a natural evolution of materials science and
>the invention of instruments to enable researchers to see
>better what they are doing at the nanometer scale than
>they could be trial and error and theories and
>assumptions. The ancient Athenians kept careful records of
>how to make nanopowders, but it was based on empirical
>observations, cause and effect experiments. The Greeks
>theorized about atoms, but they couldn''t see them. Even
>the pre-historic cave people drew pictures on walls using
>nano particals to achieve different colors.
>Most likely, nano will enable the trend in progress in the
>silicon-based electronics industry known as Moore's Law to
>continue (according to Intel, for at least another 15
>years, down to 5 nm linewidths and, theoretically, 1-to-2
>nm), while others are thinking nanotech will allow
>alternatives to silicon as well. It will likely enable
>some sort of medical treatments to attack cancer and other
>diseases at the cellular level. If the highly-touted
>hydrogen economy is going to happen, it will need some big
>breakthroughs that nanotechnology will, perhaps, make
>possible. Perhaps nano will also help avoid the looming
>global fresh water shortage. There's no doubt that those
>would all be good things and would have big impact on the
>economy and social well being. It's sort of like saying
>microtechnology has had a big impact over the past 40
>Marshall is arguing that fabbing involves no less of a
>commitment in training in 3-D CAD and access to new
>equipment than nano does. I can see the supply side of the
>equation. Someone needs to be able to articulate the
>demand side a little better, though. If we need physical
>objects, we can already manufacture them by mass
>production means in pretty high volumes, to the extent
>that we have overflowing garbage dumps. What is the stuff
>you will make with fabbing that that we really need that
>we can't make with exisitng technology? What are the exact
>social benefits that fabbing gives us? Someone needs to
>define that in a detailed study. Maybe that is happpening
>in the EU, where the effort seems more concerted than in
>the United States. China has certainly made some
>investments in RP and RM. China has also made investments
>in churning out a lot of industrial designers. I don't
>know what their CAD skills are, but it wouldn't surprise
>me if the investment in 3-D CAD in China is fairly high.
>Maybe Ian or some listener in China can comment on that.
>How does that upset or enable new business models?
>now Sunday.

Marshall Burns wrote:

>>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.
> Absolutely.
> 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."
>[] 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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