Lipson says people tend to ask the wrong question about 3D printing. They look for the break-even point between it and conventional manufacturing. “I often answer it’s not cheaper to produce and they’re quick to dismiss it as not useful. But it allows us to produce new kinds of things that were not thinkable before.”The profound change, he says, is that historically it was always cheaper to produce simple shapes than complex ones. With 3D printing the complex, gear-filled shapes he shows off are likely cheaper because they require less material.
A helmet manufacturer is using distributed 3D scanning technology to produce bespoke products for customers.