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Career Officer
Join Date: Jun 2012
Posts: 869
# 113
02-28-2013, 05:46 PM
Originally Posted by squishkin View Post
A 3D printed car takes fifty times as long to make, costs a hundred times as much, and is significantly inferior to one produced the conventional way.

More to the point, this isn't economically surprising and there's no good reason why it would change. Replicators suffer all of the disadvantages and advantages of 3D printing- that is to say they're useful for rapid prototyping and building a wide variety of objects and totally useless for actually building stuff that you want in any reasonable quantity.

Quite frankly that's something that Star Trek got quite right about the replicators, both physically and story-wise; they won't solve all problems.

Ultimately, though, they have nothing to do with the original argument I made.
Um, that simply is not true.

Typically, prototyping on a 3-D printer is much more cost effective than "conventional" prototyping, which is why 3-D printers are becoming so popular.

Sure, if you are comparing the cost of manufacturing 100 million items at an industrial facility to the cost of manufacturing 100 million items using current 3-d printers, the industrial facility will be more cost effective, but only because the tremendous cost of the traditional facility is negligible at a certain scale.

But there is going to be a price-point where it becomes more cost effective to use a 3-d printer and you better believe that industrial facilities are more-and-more using designs that can be rapidly retooled.

The replicators on Star Trek are made up technology with little basis in fact but it is pretty clear from the show that they have taken the place of many traditional manufacturing centers, hence the importance of "industrial replicators", devices which presumably can be used to quickly and efficiently manufacture everything from shuttles to significant parts of a large spacecraft.