Fabricated: The New World of 3D Printing

Fabricated tells the story of 3D printers, humble manufacturing machines that are bursting out of the factory and into homes, businesses, schools, kitchens, hospitals, even the fashion catwalk. The magic happens when you plug a 3D printer into today’s mind-boggling digital technologies. Add to that the Internet, tiny, low cost electronic circuitry, radical advances in materials science and biotech and voila! The result is an explosion of technological and social innovation.

Fabricated provides readers with practical and imaginative insights to the question “how will 3D printing technologies change my life?” Based on hundreds of hours of research and dozens of interviews with experts from a broad range of industries, Fabricated offers readers an informative, engaging and fast-paced introduction to 3D printing now and in the future.


Chapters and contents
Chapter 1:  Everything is becoming science fiction. What would “just another regular day” look like in a future, 3D printable world?

Chapter 2:  A machine that can make almost anything. Information morphed from analog form to digital. Will physical objects be next? Ten key principles explain 3D printing’s disruptive power. 

Chapter 3:  Nimble manufacturing. Emerging business models lie somewhere between mass production and the local farmer’s market.  Small-batch manufacturing is becoming profitable, freeing entrepreneurs from the tyranny imposed by economies of scale.

Chapter 4:  Tomorrow’s economy of printable products. 3D printing, low-cost design and manufacturing technologies create new market opportunities as consumers increasingly crave on-demand, custom “experience” products.

Chapter 5:  Printing in layers.  For those of a technological bent, a deep dive into the inner workings of the 3D printing process.

Chapter 6:  Design software, the digital canvas. Without an attached computer, a 3D printer is just an elaborate paperweight. An overview of design software and “digital capture.”

Chapter 7:  Bioprinting in “living ink.”  Design software and 3D printers read medical scans to fabricate living tissue and custom artificial joints. How long before all of us can tap into this Fountain of Youth?

Chaper 8:  Digital cuisine.  Today you can 3D print “high resolution” and delicious shortbread, chocolate figurines and tortillas. In the future, Quantified Selfers and couch potatoes alike will balance their diets by streaming biometrics to a food printer.

Chapter 9:  A factory in the classroom. Primary and middle school teachers teach “children’s engineering” using vivid, hands-on lesson plans.
Chapter 10:  Unleashing a new aesthetic. 3D printers are the output device computer-savvy artists, designers and architects have been waiting for.

Chapter 11:  Green, clean manufacturing.  What’s cleaner to make? A 3D printed plastic toy or a mass-produced plastic toy? 3D printers may introduce greener living… or help us drown in a rising tidal wave of plastic junk.

Chapter 12:  Ownership, safety and legal frontiers.  Technology evolves faster than the law. Consumer safety and intellectual property laws will stretch to deal with printed weapons, counterfeit products and unregulated custom-made products.  

Chapter 13:  Designing the future.  Why was Star Trek’s Replicator used only to make Earl Grey tea?  Because once we shape our tools, then our tools shape us. Next-generation design software will unshackle our imaginations, giving us new ways to imagine and edit the physical world.   

Chapter 14:  The next episode of 3D printing. What lies ahead? Watercolor artists create infinite hues by blending primary colors.  Regular people will design and blend standard materials — or micro-scale electronic components —  and “print” them out in fine, meticulously patterned sprays. The result? Weird and wacky new materials. Robots that walk out of the 3D printer. Ready-made, responsive smart materials.  

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3 thoughts on “Fabricated: The New World of 3D Printing”

  1. MUST BUY for Entrepreneurs and Businesses Small and Large! What a breathtaking journey through one of the hottest, yet least known and appreciated new technologies: digital, compact and small scale fabrication and 3D printing. The “professional” reviews of this book fail to communicate that this book, and the technologies it sketches, are FAR from just 3D printing, and have major implications for the “what’s next?” question on everyone’s lips today! They are literally a next step between huge assembly lines and the Starship Enterprise product – “materializing” machines!There are already VENDING MACHINES in China that can fabricate not only injection molded plastic products, but products with working parts, knives, coins, and much more. Granted, this book is more about printing on plastic and other less technical applications in the current generation of “real” machines, but the ramifications of the evolution from job shop to factory back to job shop are astonishing, from patent and IP questions to things like marketing, vending and distribution. Books on demand on a whole new scale– Amazon take note! In the West, you might have seen the little “dog tag” vending machines that can create a tag for your dog with her name on it while you wait. That automated aluminum engraving application is a PALE SHADOW of what’s shown in this volume, both in materials and technologies!I’m CTO at a digital animation studio (shader joes dot com) so you know where I’m coming from, and of course this family of technologies has MAJOR implications for the “hero” and modeling/ model – sample building industry, and digital artists in general. Not just a consumer technology, the “back room” implications for studios are HUGE. The author’s and interviewee’s enthusiasm is palpable with this REALLY FUN read– they truly make a great case for this MEGA – JIT technology as the next internet, transistor, PC…It might also be interesting for sociologists and CIA types to wonder how these technologies will impact emerging democracies ala Twitter. This truly represents a SOCIAL revolution in it’s cost and ubiquitous, easy distribution model.EXAMPLE technologies given in the book: Printing candy with digital sugar, using voxel “bricks” to animate video game characters instead of kinematics and meshes, “vending” creation of numerous products, including “working” toys, guns, shoes, artificial limbs, architecture, geology, cars and trucks, electric guitars, “green” manufacturing using solar power to meld sand, furniture, sculptures, insects, bots, heart valves, jaw implants, jet engines, MANY others… (Your imagination is the only limit with these technologies!).READ THIS if you’re a trend analyst, futurist, engineer, investor, designer, inventor, artist, company CTO or CEO, small entrepreneur planning new products, or just a smart science type who loves to see what 2060 might look like! We used to think of robots replacing workers on assembly lines, this shocks us into seeing nano robots in mini factories in the 7 – 11 vending machines! Astonishing, and a page turner even with all the legal and technical details and speculation.Library Picks always buys the books we review, and has nothing to do with authors, publishers or Amazon. Our reviews are strictly for the benefit of Amazon shoppers in pre-evaluating purchases.

  2. Well-written and informative, ignites the imagination This book was a pleasure to read. It’s informative on several levels, but also ignites the imagination.Over the past many years, various professional magazines have featured articles on what is popularly referred to as 3D printing. Over the past few years, various consumer publications have featured articles on it. The Mindconnection eNewsletter has mentioned it in the Good News column as a counterforce to the economically devastating misconduct of our misrepresentatives in CONgress. And let’s not forget how the movie industry used the concept in such hits as the Terminator series.I’ve read a wide range of facts and opinions on this manufacturing method, but until this book those have been in article format. Articles are great, and they constitute the vast majority of my reading. But they are necessarily much more limited in scope than books are; you can cover quite a bit more in 60,000 words than in 1,500 (unless you’re the typical politician, in which case you essentially say nothing but spew thousands of words).This book has two authors, and I suppose both are knowledgeable. As the Preface said, there wasn’t any delineation as to who wrote what. However, it seems to read with one voice. It’s clear that the authors communicated and that a good editor was involved in this book project (though some copyediting errors did crop up).It’s also clear that a whole lotta fact checkin’ was goin’ on. I didn’t find any errors of fact, and for a review of mine that is really saying something. The references are extensive, and most of those look like interesting reading.I was pleased to see two intelligently written reviews posted prior to mine. My thanks go out to Paul Tognetti for his thoughtful, accurate review and the Library Picks Staff for theirs.Not the case here, but I often wonder if some reviewers are actually talking about the same book. In anticipation of those who inevitably add dross to the review section, a few comments:*As you read along, it seems the authors are hyping up the technology. It’s not hype. The technology really is a game-changer. If you read the whole text (and generally, the whole context of the “hype” passage), you will see the authors balance out the positive attributes with cautions, notes on limitations, and “now here’s the downside” sorts of commentary.*If you have been reading any of the technical journals, for example, IEEE Spectrum, the subject won’t be new to you. That does not make this a retread (and anyone who claims so probably is borrowing someone else’s journals due to being too brain-challenged to be a subscriber). You may have heard things discussed or read a puff piece in a consumer mag, and so reach the same conclusion. What’s different here is the richness of the coverage.*The book contains many black and white photos, most of which are of marginal production quality. That does not mean the book is low value. It means the book is affordable. Big glossy photo prints are not cheap. That’s why there’s a smallish section of these in the middle rather than a whole bunch spread through out. The authors merely chose to focus their limited resources on substance rather than form. Dr. Lipson and Ms. Kurman could have published a similar book as a college text at a price of $75 to $100 (check out the publications and prices). But this lists for $27.95.*Oh, gee, it’s nearly 300 pages. This does not indicate verbosity. The writing quality indicates judicious use of words, most likely through serious editing. The amount of filler isn’t enough to even try to measure.The goal of this book, IMO, is to help the reader understand four things:1. What 3D printing is. It isn’t really printing, but that label helps us relate to the idea of using software to instruct hardware how apply one material to another. Rather than applying ink to paper, these systems can apply particles of plastic (or other materials) to each other and they can do that in three dimensions.2. How the technology is presently used. As with personal computers in the mid-1980s, there’s a small userbase and much of the usage falls under “novelty.”3. Costs and benefits. Like any technology, it has its tradeoffs. The authors present a full and accurate picture of what these are. It is clear they were trying to describe 3D printing, rather than “sell” it to the reader.4. How the technology is likely to be used in the future, and how it may be used further on. We tend to describe the future as an extension of what is now (as the authors caution us). Thus, these predictions understate the potential.The authors are certainly capable of delving into arcane explanations of this technology and running us through the mathematical equations. But that is not the path they chose. They chose the more difficult path of relating the concepts to a…

  3. This just might be the most fascinating topic of them all! For more than a decade now I have been reviewing nonfiction books on Amazon.com. My reading covers a wide array of subject matter including history and politics, biographies, disasters, economics and business and even science and medicine from time to time. I love to tackle new subjects. A couple of months ago radio and television talk show host Glenn Beck introduced me to a fantastic new technology with the potential to change the world as we know it. Despite the fact that I am technically challenged I was bound and determined to learn more. I needed a book written in language that the average person could understand. I believe I have found just such a book in Hod Lipson and Melba Kurman’s “Fabricated: The New World of 3D Printing”. “Fabricated” is a comprehensive overview of this cutting-edge technology. Frankly, I was positively spellbound by what I learned and could not put the book down. And I am very pleased to report that for the most part I was actually able to comprehend what the authors were talking about.What is so neat about 3D printers is that they offer the prospect of mankind exerting control over the physical world. In the future, people will be able to fabricate exactly what they need where and when they need it. So what do these new-fangled machines look like and exactly how do they work? According to the authors “a 3D printer can be small enough to fit into a tote bag or the size of a small mini-van. Printers can range in cost from a few hundred dollars to half a million dollars. Their unifying trait is that they follow instructions from a computer to place raw materials into layers to form a three-dimensional object.” There are so many potential applications. Lipson and Kurman walk us through the intricate process of fabricating a number of different objects, some simple and others quite complex. Now the formal industry name for 3D printing is “additive manufacturing” which is very descriptive of how these machines actually work. As the authors point out “additive refers to the fact that 3D printing methods fabricate objects by either depositing or binding raw materials into layers to form solid three-dimensional objects”. 3D printers will allow us to build products in shapes never before possible with conventional machinery while at the same time blending familiar materials into novel combinations. While it is important to realize that this technology is still in its infancy it might surprise you to learn that you may have already purchased a product created by a 3D printer. In “Fabricated” you will discover that 3D printers are already in use in such diverse industries as consumer electronics, automobiles, aerospace and even in the medical and dental fields. For example, the clear plastic braces that your twelve year old is wearing were probably made on a 3D printer!The emergence of 3D printing has spurred some exciting new programs in our nation’s classrooms. Fab@school helps teachers create curriculum that integrates science and 3D printing to teach core math and science concepts. The goal is to get elementary and middle school students excited about math and science and to introduce them to the fascinating world of engineering and design. These are the skills that are going to be in demand in the 21st century workplace. Meanwhile, on another front and Italian designer named Enrico Dini has devised a computer guided 3D printing construction method that uses sand and inorganic binder to create artificial sandstone. Just imagine the possibilities! Lipson and Kurman also introduce us to a scientist who is experimenting with a solar-powered 3D printer! As I said, the possibilities are virtually endless.If you are intrigued by new technology, wondering what the potential business applications might be or are simply imbued with intellectual curiosity then I would strongly urge you to pick up a copy of “Fabricated: The New World of 3D Printing”. There are so many ideas and so much information to digest here. It would appear that 3D printing would be most apropos for high end and custom made goods but that remains to be seen. Towards the end of the book Hod Lipson and Melba Kurman delve into the considerable legal, moral and ethical ramifications of all of this. There are copyright, patent and liability issues to ponder and when it comes to bioprinting major ethical issues to contemplate. I found “Fabricated” to a meticulously researched and very well-written book. In my view the authors have succeeded in their stated goal of making this material very accessible to the general reader. “Fabricated” is sprinkled with dozens of incredible photographs that will greatly enhance your understanding of the subject matter at hand. This is really exciting stuff and I learned an awful lot! A great choice for general readers as well. Very highly recommended!

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