Re: [rp-ml] Nano/fabber politics

From: Matt Ellis (
Date: Mon Aug 08 2005 - 23:40:55 EEST

Hi Brock and Marshall,

Regarding the supply side argument - it takes more than just having the
equipment and the training - I think the technology has to be easier to use.
There must be a "path of least
Only enthusiasts would sit down and design an object and then "fab" it when
they could buy it from Amazon. The average person probably does not and will
never have the time or skill to design and "fab" the things they need in
life. One day "Napster
may happen but for RP to really become worldchanging it has to be as easy to
use as email or a cellphone. I think this will happen one day - but RP tools
both software and hardware - have a long way to go.

On 8/8/05, Brock Hinzmann <> wrote:
> Sorry, the item below didn't get posted to the list.
> Brock
> -----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
> years.
> 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?
> Brock
> 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.
> Marshall
> (PS, Brock and I should get the uber-geek award for debating nano/fabber
> politics on a Saturday night!)

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