innovation excellence weekly - issue 20
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DESCRIPTIONWe are proud to announce our twentieth Innovation Excellence Weekly for Issuu. Inside you'll find ten of the best innovation-related articles from the past week on Innovation Excellence - the world's most popular innovation web site and home to 5,000+ innovation-related articles.
February 15, 2013
Issue 20 February 15, 2013
1. The Promise and Peril of 3D Printing.......................................................... Melba Kurman
2. Open Innovation and Distributed Business Model with API ....... Nicolas Bry
3. Characteristics of Highly Creative People .... Jeffrey Baumgartner
4. 6 Techniques to Sharpen & Expand Innovation Instincts ......... Bradley (Woody) Bendle
5. True Innovators 10 Insights That Define Them .... Stefan Lindegaard
6. Creative Intelligence ... Greg Satell
7. When is it Not the Right Time to Innovate? .... Simon Hill
8. The Art of Five Whys ....... Matthew E May
9. Key Issues in Innovation Management ..... Ralph Ohr and Tim Kastelle
10. Attitude Reflects Leadership ..... Mike Myatt
Your hosts, Braden Kelley, Julie Anixter and Rowan Gibson, are innovation writers, speakers and
strategic advisors to many of the worlds leading companies.
Our mission is to help you achieve innovation excellence inside your own organization by making
innovation resources, answers, and best practices accessible for the greater good.
Cover Image credit: Creative Light Bulb Vector
The Promise and Peril of 3D Printing
Posted on February 13, 2013 by Melba Kurman
There are things we can do, right now, to accelerate this trend. Last year, we created our first
manufacturing innovation institute in Youngstown, Ohio. A once-shuttered warehouse is now a
state-of-the art lab where new workers are mastering the 3D printing that has the potential to
revolutionize the way we make almost everything.
- President Obama, State of the Union Address, Feb. 12, 2013
3D printing the promise and peril of a machine that can make (almost) anything
I am enjoying a moment of convergence between my two parallel worlds university technology commercialization and 3D printing. By now,
youve probably heard about 3D printing. 3D printing technology isnt new its actually been around for a few decades. Whats new is the fact
that in the past few years, a perfect storm of converging technologies are rapidly opening up a lot of potential new applications.
Recently several leading Chinese universities and the government invested $80 million to form a Industry Alliance 3D printing innovation
center in Beijing. And, did you know that one of the most widely used 3D printing techniques was invented and brought to market by a
University of Texas student and professor in the 1980s? Demonstrating the value of federally funded university research, the project was
federally funded by DARPA.
It seems that everything really is bigger in Texas, including ideas. According to the U Texass engineering newsletter,
Selective Laser Sintering (SLS) started with a concept for a manufacturing process by a UT mechanical engineering undergraduate named
Carl Deckard .
The story continues:
Several important patents for the technology were issued to the university in the later years, beginning in 1988. Soon Deckard and Beaman
were involved in a start up company called DTM to design and build the machines, and make parts for clients. By 1989, they had sold the first
machines, and in 1990 BFGoodrich bought a controlling interest in the company.
Besides SLS (the printing technique invented at the University of Texas) there are several different 3D printing methods out there. 3D printers
range in price from six-figure mega-scale industrial printers capable of making titanium or ceramic parts, to todays emerging consumer-scale
printers that print in plastic and cost one or two thousand dollars.
Machines classified as 3D printers have a few core characteristics in common:
1) a 3D printer makes three-dimensional objects by following instructions from a computer, not a human operator or hard-coded machine
instructions. A 3D printer doesnt work if it doesnt have a design file to tell it what to do.
2) Printers print raw material into layers (it depends on the raw material used). One type of 3D printer extrudes thin layers or tiny droplets of
soft raw material through a nozzle or syringe. A second major category of printer technologies (developed by Chuck Hull who later founded 3D
Systems) solidifies powder using a laser.
3) After each new layer is precisely deposited (or firmed up depending on the type of printer) in a print bed on top of the previous layer, the
gradual build-up of layers eventually forms into a solid three-dimensional object.
To learn more about the basics of 3D printing, 3ders is a good source. So is Fabbaloo and Open3DP (out of the University of Washington). If
youd really like to take a deep dive (shameless plug here), you can read a book I co-authored called Fabricated: the new world of 3D
With that basic explanation out of the way, I want to jump ahead to the big question: how will 3D printing and related technologies better
design software, cheap computing power, biotech and tiny electronic components change our lives?
3D printing today
As computing power increases and hardware costs plummet, 3D printers have emerged an output device for the digital world. 3D printing
enables us to enjoy a small taste of the freedom and convenience of the digital world, but in the design and fabrication of physical objects. For
example, if you use an optical scanner (or a modified Microsoft Kinect) you can scan the shape of your body and tweak the scan data into a
design file. Next, you feed the design file to a 3D printer to print out custom molds to make a Gummi Me. Or a Gummi You.
More seriously, industrial designers and artists use optical scanning technologies and 3D printers to re-create exact copies of machine parts or
sculpture. Someday as scanners and printer technology improve, well become quite blase about making copies and re-mixes of physical
things. Regular people will be able to design and fabricate physical objects as easily as they edit, update and re-arrange their Facebook page.
A disruptive aspect of the 3D printing process is its precision. The fact that a 3D printer makes three-dimensional objects layer by painstaking
layer means you can put raw material precisely into the right place. If you can place droplets of plastic or tiny particles of metal in exactly
the place you want it, you gain the ability to fabricate weird and wonderful new shapes. Artists and designers are just beginning to scratch the
surface of this new design space.
3D printers form complex shapes that were once physically impossible to make. Traditional manufacturing machines mold plastic or metal or
carve away (or grind down) chunks of raw material. These crude techniques used in mass production arent capable of forming objects with
hollow insides or interlocked parts. For example, have you ever seen one of those wooden chains in a craft shop in which the chain links are
pre-interlaced since theyre carved from a single block of wood? A 3D printer could print such a chain.
True, maybe theres not a gigantic market for pre-intertwined 3D printed chain links. However, if you think about the bigger picture, 3D printing
is the only manufacturing technique that is capable of creating interlocking parts in a single print job, no downstream assembly needed. A
machine that can make assembly-free, interlocked parts opens up new design possibilities and could someday shorten assembly lines. For
example, you can 3D print a door hinge in a single, ready-made piece. If you made a door hinge the old fashioned way from separately molded
metal parts, youd have to later put them together.
Speaking of precision manufacturing, how about 3D printing replacement body parts and new skin? Today, medical researchers have
successfully 3D printed living stem cells inside a protective hydrogel, where the cells are able to thrive and continue to grow on their own. As
this technique improves, we may be able to print usable living tissue inside a petri dish. Or artificial meat.
To repair torn cartilage or insert a new artificial heart valve, human surgeons wield a scalpel. Cutting and stitching injured tissue seems horribly
crude compared to more elegant renewal mechanisms that could be made possible by a computer-guided, tiny 3D printing device that could
deposit precisely living tissue inside the patients body. There may be a major psychological barrier to the notion of a surg ical computer-guided
robot thats paired with a tiny, in-body 3D printer. I am increasingly convinced, however, that computer-guided medical techniques could be an
attractive alternative to human experts. After all, during several months of driving around on public roads and highways, Googles self-driving
cars had significantly fewer car accidents, on average, than human drivers.
A 3D printers accuracy is increased by its high degree of fluency as it listens and speaks with software. The precise digital information of a
design file can be precisely enacted as a 3D printed physical object. The ability to transform digital information in a close physical
approximation has tremendous potential for medical applications.
For example, if a surgeon needed to create a custom hip implant for a car accident victim, she could take a high resolution X-ray of the patients
good hip. This X-ray image, in essence, is just digital information. The surgeon could adjust the X-ray of the good hip into a design file, then
flip the initial design fi