Doyle's Fish & Hicky Bar

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Saturday, August 17, 2013

3D Printing and The First World Problems That Come With It


      Who would ever have thought a 3D printer could even exist? Or even more so a 3D food printer.   One of the prime concepts of the far future in science fiction was to walk into the dining area and speak into a microphone and have your food magically appear.     Now, its not so magical anymore.   We already know that voice recognition has increased in quality to the point that you can even say the wrong thing and it corrects you.    That's one of the reasons I have full faith in this next human cultural and industrial shift.
Nasa is hot on the heels of the 3D printing revolution.  They are taking it further than making small plastic toys or paper airplanes.   Apparently you can shoot strings of liquified food into shape and it stays in that shape.    They are using only shelf stable foods that will last months and months for potential use by astronauts.
It may have taken an Einstein to come up with this technology but thankfully it doesn't require one to see the future.
As the price of 3D printers falls with public acceptance, new world problems will show up.
  Scenario One.
"Mom, I lost a button on my favorite dress!" the little drama queen wails.
Harried Mom says,  "Ok I will have to google the pattern and see if I can get one close to it."  
Drama queen even louder and more pitiful, "But it has to match PERFECTLY, I would die to be seen with the wrong button!!"
Frantic Mom searching with one hand holding wine glass with the other.    Drama queen gets too close making Mom drop wine glass and shattering it.
Angry Mom jumps up making Drama queen run for her life from room.  "Great now I got to print another wine glass!   That code is coming out of your allowance young lady!"

Scenario Two.
"Dad, my car has a flat!"  says first year college son.
"Do you got a jack?"   asks Dad in an airport across country.
"No"  says inexperienced son.
"Do you have a tire tool?" asks frowning Dad.
"No" says clueless son.
"Can you call a tow truck?"  asks irritated Dad.
"NO, I have to leave now, I'm late for class.   They will fail me if Im not there.   This little town doesnt have taxis either. "    pause.   "I do have access to a 3D printer though."
"Great, print out a tire plug and install it."  says relieved Dad.
"I did that already, and read the instructions, but it needs this little T shaped tool and it doesnt say what its called"   says plaintive son.  "I can't find the code for it!"
"Figure it out!  I'm in debt for all of my natural life putting you through school.   You have all of Google, Yahoo, Encyclopedia Britannica, and Tire Tools Are Us.  Somebody somewhere knows what its called and then you can find code to print the damn thing out!   You probably could have walked to school in the time you have spent on this!"   says boiling Dad.
"What?"  says incredulous son, "It's a half mile over there!"

Scenario Three

"What are you doing?" asks prying supervisor.
"Searching for code for nuts, washers, and cotter keys"  says worried employee hammering away on a keyboard.
"For what?   We have plenty in stock to meet our quota,"   says smug super.
"That's what we thought too, but we are OUT and the production line is going to come to a halt!"  says employee trying to keep his job.
"Impossible!"  shouts bossman suddenly worried about keeping his job too. "Call somebody"
"No one has any stock whatsoever" says grim faced worker. "I'm pulling the code up for the three pieces and we can print them in shop."
Suddenly relieved supervisor "Great, so we had the correct material for them?"
"Nope, all we have is paper mix right now.   Don't even have plastic.    Been out of powdered metal for a month,"  says chagrined worker, "But I can print something close to spec and we can change them before they leave the plant.   Thereby keeping production going with paper nuts, washers, and cotter pins.   We just got to remember to change the parts out without anybody finding out we did it."
The supervisor smiles and puts an appreciate hand on the workers shoulder.
"I'm depending on you son."
The tired worker smiles hoping that someday technology will allow him to print a new supervisor.

     Seriously, any and all of the past scenarios could be a reality.   Issues we have now of missing parts, whole assemblies, and even food might one future day be a dim memory of where we've come from.
     I do love the idea of stepping up to machine and speaking into it what I want and it magically producing the item.    It would search the universe for code automatically and have available all the ingredients for whatever your heart desires right on the spot.   I will admit to there being new world problems but, really, they won't be so bad.
Hot Plain Tomato Soup.