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A Glimpse of the Maker Movement

Imagine if you had had the chance to be in room in the mid-70’s attending presentations from the likes of Bill Gates and Steve Jobs?  I believe that maybe 20 years from now, I will think back and recall when I sat at the US Patent and Trademark Office auditorium and listened to additive manufacturing machine makers 3D Systems, Stratasys, MakerBot, Ex One, and EOS, and innovative companies such as Shapeways share the creative ways they were making new products that had never been imagined before.

“The only limitation is the imagination,” was a constant refrain that echoed through each of the energetic visionary talks.  From consumer products like jewelry or household gizmos, to industrial products with aerospace, automotive, medical or medical device applications, they were all talking about this early-stage way of making quick customizable, previously-unimagined products economically.  Folks were demonstrating their machines and showing off their products.   You could hear the echo of the “wows” being expressed by the attendees.  It certainly made me think about how things would be changing for our kids and grandkids.

We are in the early days of this amazing technology. And as with any new technology there are still many questions to be considered and innovative approaches to be developed to address potential issues and challenges.

Many organizations are hosting events that should help manufacturers ask the right questions, while promoting the capabilities and potential of this emerging technology.  The Regional Manufacturing Institute of Maryland, RMI is hosting an event on February 7th where Maryland Legislators will have their photos turned into a 3D printed “head” shot to demonstrate how this technology may play a role in the future of manufacturing.  And, PTO will continue to have “Additive Manufacturing Partnership Meetings” in the future, so we can continue the dialogue, discuss challenges and opportunities, and witness the evolution.  Maybe even plunge in head first!

About the author

Clara Asmail

Clara Asmail develops new approaches to support small R&D and manufacturing businesses with resources to commercialize technologies. Her 25+ year career at NIST includes managing the SBIR Program and Technology Transfer, and leader of optical scatterometry research projects. One of her inventions is the highest royalty bearing license at the NIST Labs.

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It is essential to encourage the creativity and progression of manufacturing in our country to stay competitive internationally and keep creating necessary jobs.
Great article! Our website is dedicated to promoting Manufacturing, STEM, CTE & Relevance-Blended Learning in the USA to Individuals, Families, Communities, Educators & Government through social media. If you have ideas or suggestions email us at: IWantToHelp [at] (IWantToHelp[at]ManufacturingStories[dot]com)
Great Blog, Clara! I know of your interest in this and can imagine your excitement at being with all of these heavy hitters in the AM industry. It is only just beginning! I sent Jenna a CD with a presentation I have put together on AM, which provides explanation of each of the methods, and cites interesting research at Wake Forest, MIT and others, as well as advice to SME's about adopting, ask her to see it!
These are beautiful products samples, I wonder what the cutting edge technology is.
If you look at the spheres in this array of products, you might see the structure, which can be achieved with the technology. It means, via building products small layer by small layer, that we can manufacture products that could not otherwise be made, only conceived! Think of forming a turbine blade with a cooling channel in the middle, for example!
The Regional Manufacturing Institute's Feb 7th event in Annapolis Maryland was designed to get legislators to become part of the "new face of Manufacturing" Over 60 legislators had their heads scanned and we will soon be "handing them their heads" in a follow up session. The purpose was to promote a more positive image of manufacturing and engage legislators in learning about 3D imaging, design and printing. The Object Lab at Towson University + Direct Dimensions of Owings Mills teamed up to scan and print the heads. Over 250 people participated including legislators, staff and other government officials including folks from the Governor's office. A week later we were in Congress at the Invitation of Congressman Sarbanes, scanning and printing the House Energy and Commerce subcommittee members at a manufacturing showcase event.

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