jabailo - These scenerios -- move your whole home, or stretch your commute to hours (and sleep or work while you ride) -- assume huge supplies of cheap energy.
Latest research indicates that peak oil is a long way off -- we won't have to worry about running out for a century or more. But it won't be cheap. That oil and natural gas is located a long, long way below the surface of the Earth, and requires sophisticated, expensive technology to access.
And then there's the issue of global warming. Make it easier for people to drive longer distance, and they'll burn more fuel. On the other hand, vehicles will become more efficient. Instead of having people in cars driving around delivering pizza, you'll be able to deliver them by robot drone.
The change is that the raw materials might be something very generic and pliable like composite fibers. Or moldable metal like aluminum. So then it would be a question of do you put the printer near the aluminum smelter and ship the shaped part, or ship ingots to the printer which near the assembly. Seems like either way you're shipping the same weight, but ingots are smaller than shaped parts.
jabailo - But you still have the issue of raw materials being located in a partiuclar place, and having to pay to move those materials. So it might make sense to have the 3D printers located where the raw materials are, rather than near the point of manufacture.
Right now suppliers are interconnected through far flung distribution points so that production is optimally situated where raw materials, low cost labor and innovation in that field is located.
However, if we print rather than ship, then perhaps Detroit will again become the centerpeice it once was. If you can create an assembly plant, and then ring it with giant printers that build and shape each part to the customers desire, why would you globalize? You can still have a Japanese designer send in his interior style, but you wouldn't want to print and then ship from the Orient.
You would print it down the street, from your giant 3D printing companies "lathe".
It takes 30 years or so for cutting-edge technology to become mainstream. 30 years from Doug Engelbart's famous mouse/word-processor/etc. demo to Windows 95. 30 years from "carphones" being for the wealthy and professional drivers, to the Motorola Startac.
Since cars first drove themselves on controlled courses in 2005, that puts us at 2035. 22 years in the future. That's when everyone who now owns a car either has a self-driving car, or is thinking about buying one. That's when the jackhammers are starting to tear up the parking lots.
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At its recent Futures Conference, Ford brought together big names such as Seth Godin, Sherry Turkle from MIT, Steve Wozniak, and Pixar's Jay Ward to discuss where they see Ford going and how it intersects with some of their predictions about the Internet. Topics that were covered include how brands can improve how they tell their stories and how companies can focus more closely on improving the health and wellness of their employees and customers.
These days, 3D printers seem to be everywhere. You can build your own, go to one of the TechShops around the country, and maybe even find a pop-up store like the one that came to midtown Manhattan in December and offered dozens of objects for sale, along with the opportunity to watch several printers in action creating them.
Last week, NBC shuttered the hyperlocal news portal EveryBlock.com, and laid off its few full-time staffers. The decision was a poor one, and a blow for civic activists all over. It's a shame, given how many examples of great civic science there are.
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