When we first wrote about Tabletop Manufacturing, which known as 3-D printing, digital fabrication and rapid prototyping, we asked the question, “Can you wait a few years to get your new business up and running?” That was in 2008. Since then tabletop manufacturing by its various names, is being widely adopted and being put into use by boutique businesses and large corporations like Boeing and General Electric.
You may be wondering whether this process of using software to create a digital file, which when sent to a machine automatically constructs physical objects, can become a sustainable livelihood for you. It does this by laying down layer upon layer of a material, which may be a metal or a plastic, until the object comes into being.
In a local community, a person providing tabletop manufacturing might become a “Mr. or Ms. Make-It,” kind of like the role a “Mr. or Ms. Fix-It” plays in some places. Tabletop manufacturing enables the manufacturing of parts and items for local, immediate use, such as building pumps or fabricating the parts to repair them to bring water to parched fields, medical and dental implants, and prosthetic limbs molded to the individual patients’ requirement, jewelry, and models of buildings for architects.
Tabletop manufacturing is being adopted because of its advantages, such as:
One person being able to operate several machines producing everything from production parts and prototypes that give form to ideas for new products so companies can quickly test and launch new products, making design changes at no cost.
Reducing waste of raw material, precise manufacturing, and eliminating the cost of storing inventories because items can be made as needed
The hardware and software needed ranges from something you can build with a kit like the Buildatron 2 3D printer for $1,599 to devices that cost more than $100,000 from companies like Stratasys and 3D Systems.
You can learn more from the Society of Manufacturing Engineers and the Global Alliance of Rapid Prototyping Associations.
Because we believe in the future for this field as a way to create both sustainable livelihoods and communities, we acquired these domain names. tabletopmanufacturing.com, .biz, .info, and .org. If these domains might be of value to you, [maxbutton id=”1″].
If you would like help discovering a sustainable livelihood, we offer consulting. [maxbutton id=”1″]
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