International Forecaster Weekly

Game Changer

Since the dawn of the 1900's, the deluge of life changing events has been overwhelming... not long ago a technology morphed into something that while not completely a "stand alone" concept, is a game changer. I'm speaking about 3D printing and boy is it about to shake up the world.

Bob Rinear | May 11, 2013

If you were to live in say the 1600's, 1700's or even most of the 1800's, you might see a life changing event... literally once in your life. But since the dawn of the 1900's, the deluge of life changing events has been overwhelming. For some the idea of going from an outhouse to inside plumbing was the single greatest thing they'd ever seen. For others such as my great Grandmom, she went from riding in horse and buggies to jet travel and a man on the moon. Everywhere you looked, some tremendous invention was making life better. We got the first cars, we got electric lights, we got machines capable of doing labor. Medicine boomed, as each decade we'd wipe out another horrible disease. Even if you go back to the early 1990's when I broke my neck, the surgery they performed gave me back 85% of all my movement pain free. If I'd have been injured just a mere twenty years earlier and  I'd have been paralyzed on the left side for the balance of my life.

Amazing "stuff".

In the mid 90's we were introduced to this World Wide Web thing, the "Internet". As far as I was concerned it was the single biggest leap in "game changing" that I'd personally ever seen. From the luxury of my little home office I could read the works of the worlds greats, listen to lectures by the worlds great minds, explore areas of the earth I'd never be able to visit. All for about 50 bucks a month and a computer. I still consider it the most life changing "thing" that ever happened to my generation. Granted each and every day there was still some new invention, but they were more like an evolution of what was already there. For instance being a boater, we had something called "loran" for many years. It was a way of getting a fix on your boats location by listening to radio signals and triangulating the delay times to get to you. The microcomputer in them would then tell you where you were. That evolved into something much better, the GPS system. This used satellites in orbit above the earth to transmit signals that the computer would triangulate. The accuracy was astounding, at times as good as a 20-foot circle around your position. Then we had the "cell phone" which certainly went from a big old bag phone with a battery the size of a red brick, to the latest greatest iphone...but lets face it, it was still a phone, just with a ton more "stuff" it could do along with being a phone. As far as true game changing, or life changing inventions it was still a "morph" more than a brand new concept. That's not a bad thing however.

But not long ago a technology morphed into something that while not completely a "stand alone" concept, is a game changer. I'm speaking about 3D printing and boy is it about to shake up the world.

Now, when 3D printing first started making waves in the high-end technology circles, I looked into it and being a 56 year old dinosaur decided "it wouldn't work" for more than hobbyists. Well I should know better at my age. We're in a time when so many "inventions" come so fast, and so many bright minds can get together so well, that anything seems possible. So let me prelude the rest of this by just giving a quick explanation of what 3D printing is.

Each and every one of you has used a printer of some sort. Even if you go back 30 years to the old Xerox machines you were basically putting images on a piece of paper. You were "printing" something. Of course that evolved through the ink jets that became standard desk fare to the laser jets and to today's ultra fast, ultra high photo quality printing. But you were still taking an image, whether that of a letter or a picture, and placing it on a sheet of paper. Well, enter 3 D printing. With 3 D printing, a machine that works amazingly similar to an ink jet printer, you can print "things".

Basically what happens is that you pour a powder into the machine, and then feed it's computer with a 3 dimensional drawing. The computer then goes to work "laying" that powder down in the same exact place the drawing says it should go. Then when a layer of material is laid down, a laser or a heat source hits it and solidifies it. Then the machine makes the next pass over the item, depositing more plastic or powder where it's supposed to go. Another shot of the laser and then another layer of "stuff". On and on this goes as layer by layer a real 3 dimensional, tangible, item is produced. It is the most astounding thing to watch happen.

In the beginning of it's very short history, they started by making simple things. A block. A domino. A triangle. Then they moved to simple "toys" like an army man, a game piece. Then they pushed the envelope a bit and made the first "wrench" and then onto the first "moving" parts. From there they continued on to make gears and cogs and cranks and fan blades. Then medicine got involved and they've created model limbs and bones and jaws. In very rapid fashion the amount of "things" that people were cranking out was pretty amazing. But there was and to some extent still is a problem. Most of the media used in the process is a form of plastic. So even a wrench printed out on your desktop 3 D machine which looks perfect, can't take the stresses of being used like a wrench from Sears. The material isn't strong enough.


Now consider this. Lets suppose they come up with a way to do their dot matrix layering in a material that when heated or lasered becomes as strong as steel.  What if an element like Graphene or some alloy of it, makes “things” that are literally stronger than steel?? What happens to the manufacturing of "small things"? It gets disrupted in a huge huge way. You'd never have to go to Home Depot for a screw or a screwdriver. You'd never have to go to the bicycle shop for a new pedal. You'd never have to go buy a new hinge for your door, or a hammer.  Did you break the wheel on your sliding desk? Print one. Need a new case for your iphone? Print one. Need a nut for that ceiling fan blade? Print one. Need a new turbine for your turbo charger? Print one. The ramifications boggle the mind. Why would you go to Autozone and buy a new water pump? Just print one.

The news was buzzing this week about the 3D gun that was successfully printed and fired recently. Yes folks, a handful of people were working on creating a gun out of a printer that could hold up to the pressures inside a gun chamber when fired. Time and time again the plastic would fail from those excessive pressures.  Well, they finally did it. Granted it looks kind of funky, but they did it. They created a working firearm from "nothing" but plastic powder and a 2000-dollar printer.  But wait, it gets better. The guys that designed this thing decided that they'd put the "plans" on line so anyone could take those plans ( a CAD drawing) feed it into your 3D printer and pop out a functioning gun. Can you say game changer????

I mentioned that this technology is a game changer and that might be an understatement. Already the folks that are scared to death of guns, and hate American freedom have drafted up laws to make it illegal. On Monday I saw an interview with Mayor Bloomberg of NY. He is already pushing legislation that would make it a crime to own a 3D printed gun. Can you see what's happening here folks? I mentioned to our folks at the gun range that this was going to get Uncle Sam all in a tizzy.  Forget Bloomberg and his anti gun lunacy. Look at the bigger picture. Within the week, the State department descended on these folks and demanded that the plans be taken down off the net. How stupid. How utterly silly. This is 2013. Those plans were downloaded over 100K times. They reside on servers all around the world. But even that isn't the point. The point is that they were just the "first" to do this. As materials get stronger, anyone with a CAD program and a printer can and will produce a gun if they wish.

The American people have made their point. Gun sales are at all time highs. Since Obama was re elected gun and ammo sales have broken every record ever set. Most of the more " in demand" guns are simply not available. People that have been raised to understand the Constitution want to buy everything they can before Uncle Sam declares them illegal, and lets face it folks, that's what Obama and his stooges want. All the leading Democrats have admitted it in one way or the other; they'd like nothing more than a total ban on guns. Look at what's happening with the DHS, They've bought BILLIONS of rounds of ammo. In fact, I have to believe with those that feel that Obama is doing an "end run" right now. If he can't get rid of guns, he'll do what he can to get rid of ammo. There's absolutely no legal or defensive reason for the DHS to be buying so much ammo. Unless of course they want to arm up against societal breakdown AND at the same time deny most Americans the ability to get any.  To this minute, most store shelves are bare of the best and most common bullets. Frankly on their part it's pretty smart. If they think they're going to have to deal with a societal breakdown, and they can't get the guns out of people's hands, buy up all the ammo instead.

If the 3 D printing genius's put their brainpower together to make ever stronger materials for their printing, I can think of no bigger disruptive technology. Not only does it wipe out entire classes of machinists that turn metal on lathes, or change the landscape of small parts manufacturing, it opens up a black market in the gun market that literally changes everything. While it might not be feasible or economical to make bullets with these printers, even if they had the ingredients that would work, there's little doubt that underground "shops" are going to print the guns. Bloomberg thinks he's going to be proactive and nip this in the bud with his stupid legislation. I wonder when the liberals will ever wake up to the fact that bad guys don't care about laws??