How do you design a toaster? By that, I don’t mean what skills and materials will be needed, but rather what the design process consists of. Would you be surprised if I suggested that it might begin with a manufacturer describing what type of toaster is required to a designer who envisages exactly what it will look like and how it will be made, then sends detailed specifications to a factory? Of course not. Countless products have been designed in that way since the Industrial Revolution.
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So… Is there a quick path from the data used to produce an object on a 3d printer, to getting getting the object mass produced by some other mechanism? Various articles tout 3d printers as the next big thing in manufacturing, but compared to the injection molding machines that spit out Lego (or equiv) at furious rates, it seems to me as more of the next big thing in craftsmanship; too slow to really be considered manufacturing.