When 3D printing meets the assembly line...

One of the main limitations of 3D printing is its "slowness". Often, though, this is an issue only when one actually needs to manufacture many identical copies of the same object. Still, it is an issue.

This limitation, however, may be overcome with the diffusion of 3D printers like the Blackbelt model recently covered at Fabbaloo:

"Blackbelt uses a much more powerful conveyor belt system and a curiously angled extruder to enable continuous production, so long as you keep the plastic filament spool from emptying"

"As objects are printed, they move along the belt until it curls under, releasing the print and, once again, it falls into a bin."

Now, please try to imagine a totally automated assembly line, which:

  • costs much less than traditional ones, to the point that every city district may have its own
  • can work 24/7, if needed. But does not need to, in order to be profitable!
  • can produce endless sequences of unique objects, each totally different from all the others

What will happen once automated 3D printing like this becomes commonplace? What (further) impacts will this have on production and employment? Please let us know your opinion, and come discuss this topic at the workshop on production of our Final Conference!