Talk:Virtual designs into physical objects

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This 'discussion page' is currently used to hold notes for the development of this website (however it can still be used for discussion)

Perhaps ought change this section name to 'Digital manufacturing'...

  • I think that's a good idea. 'Digital' captures the meaning of 'virtual designs' and 'manufacturing' captures the meaning of 'into physical objects'. And 'digital manufacturing' sounds snappier --Balatro 15:12, 30 October 2010 (CEST)

Combined section on Computer-controlled flexible manufacturing techniques

Great picture of engine block being milled:

Fortune magazine article on Gershenfeld:

Build your own pcb mill

Build your own cnc machine

  • Mouldings
    • Rapid injection mouldings (CNCed low volume, high speed, aluminium injection moulds) - eg.
    • Casting from rapid prototyped parts
    • Vac forming etc

Loughborough uni automated house building (and decorating) - - Times article

Even 3D printing of replacement human organs using cells

Keywords: Solid freeform fabrication

Metadata associated with designs

Likely that additive fabrication, CNC machining and inkjet printing (for colour, conductive inks, battery chemicals etc) might be combined into a single desktop machine...Mini fab lab.

What are the limits with size?


  • Jigsaw shaped metal pieces that fit together, then welded under computer control - could make extremely strong structures of almost any size.
  • Other modular building blocks


3d scanning

Physical objects into virtual designs! The flipside of digital manufacturing, which allows machine parts to be "cloned".


Not nano-tech as such, but milli / micro -scale reconfigurable matter. Will be perfect for what rapid prototyping is currently used for, but instead of having to make a new model every time something changes, the model simply morphs to the new shape. Have thought about this concept before but never come to any firm conclusions about how it might be made to work practically. However recently came across this video clip (second half) where Babu Pillai describes his research in this area [1]. Video of concept.

3D printing of tissue and organs: NS, Wired , [2] and [3]

Open manufacturing (keyword)

Ponoko - Metal Printing Process

3D printing ceramics from University of Washington

Packaging manufacturing information and dependancies:


Does anyone have any thoughts on how to prevent these technologies being turned to evil? Think about it - if RepLabs started to spread all over the world, how long would it be before someone started using them to make guns and other weaponry? It's a serious consideration and I have no particular answers for it as yet. --Balatro

Sorry didn't spot this post. Yes, it's an interesting one, but I don't think there's a big difference with what you can build now with conventional machinery. It is pretty easy already to make a DIY gun with a metal pipe or other materials (and there are plenty of sites on the web showing you how to do it). You could argue that this new generation of fabrication equipment makes it even easier, but then does everyone feel they need a gun? Probably not. Anyone who really wants a gun can probably get hold of one without too much trouble anyway - or already has one. My suspicion is that the laws and culture of a country dictate more whether there is a proliferation of weaponry or not (think US compared to UK). I expect more widespread genetic engineering and biotech perhaps pose a bigger threat --CharlesC 01:55, 27 June 2010 (CEST)
World's first 3D printed gun--Balatro 12:45, 28 July 2012 (CEST)