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Fabricated: The New World of 3D Printing

2013 nonfiction book by Hod Lipson and Melba Kurman

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This just might be the most fascinating topic of them all!

  • Mar 16, 2013
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For several years now I have been reviewing nonfiction books on lunch.com.  My reading covers a wide array of subject matter including history and politics, biographies, disasters, economics and business and even science and medicine from time to time.  I love to tackle new subjects.  A couple of months ago radio and television talk show host Glenn Beck introduced me to a fantastic new technology with the potential to change the world as we know it.  Despite the fact that I am technically challenged I was bound and determined to learn more.  I needed a book written in language that the average person could understand.  I believe I have found just such a book in Hod Lipson and Melba Kurman's "Fabricated: The New World of 3D Printing".  "Fabricated" is a comprehensive overview of this cutting-edge technology.  Frankly, I was positively spellbound by what I learned and could not put the book down.  And I am very pleased to report that for the most part I was actually able to comprehend what the authors were talking about.

What is so neat about 3D printers is that they offer the prospect of mankind exerting control over the physical world.  In the future, people will be able to fabricate exactly what they need where and when they need it. So what do these new-fangled machines look like and exactly how do they work?  According to the authors "a 3D printer can be small enough to fit into a tote bag or the size of a small mini-van.  Printers can range in cost from a few hundred dollars to half a million dollars.  Their unifying trait is that they follow instructions from a computer to place raw materials into layers to form a three-dimensional object."  There are so many potential applications.  Lipson and Kurman walk us through the intricate process of fabricating a number of different objects, some simple and others quite complex.  Now the formal industry name for 3D printing is "additive manufacturing" which is very descriptive of how these machines actually work.  As the authors point out "additive refers to the fact that 3D printing methods fabricate objects by either depositing or binding raw materials into layers to form solid three-dimensional objects".  3D printers will allow us to build products in shapes never before possible with conventional machinery while at the same time blending familiar materials into novel combinations.  While it is important to realize that this technology is still in its infancy it might surprise you to learn that you may have already purchased a product created by a 3D printer.  In "Fabricated" you will discover that 3D printers are already in use in such diverse industries as consumer electronics, automobiles, aerospace and even in the medical and dental fields.  For example, the clear plastic braces that your twelve year old is wearing were probably made on a 3D printer!

The emergence of 3D printing has spurred some exciting new programs in our nation's classrooms.  Fab@school helps teachers create curriculum that integrates science and 3D printing to teach core math and science concepts.  The goal is to get elementary and middle school students excited about math and science and to introduce them to the fascinating world of engineering and design.  These are the skills that are going to be in demand in the 21st century workplace.  Meanwhile, on another front and Italian designer named Enrico Dini has devised a computer guided 3D printing construction method that uses sand and inorganic binder to create artificial sandstone.  Just imagine the possibilities!  Lipson and Kurman also introduce us to a scientist who is experimenting with a solar-powered 3D printer!  As I said, the possibilities are virtually endless.

If you are intrigued by new technology, wondering what the potential business applications might be or are simply imbued with intellectual curiosity then I would strongly urge you to pick up a copy of "Fabricated:  The New World of 3D Printing".  There are so many ideas and so much information to digest here.  It would appear that 3D printing would be most apropos for high end and custom made goods but that remains to be seen.  Towards the end of the book Hod Lipson and Melba Kurman delve into the considerable legal, moral and ethical ramifications of all of this.  There are copyright, patent and liability issues to ponder and when it comes to bioprinting major ethical issues to contemplate.  I found "Fabricated" to a meticulously researched and very well-written book.  In my view the authors have succeeded in their stated goal of making this material very accessible to the general reader.  "Fabricated" is sprinkled with dozens of incredible photographs that will greatly enhance your understanding of the subject matter at hand.  This is really exciting stuff and I learned an awful lot!  A great choice for general readers as well. Very highly recommended!

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More Fabricated: The New World of 3... reviews
review by . February 20, 2013
"A 3D printer can be small enough to fit into a tote bag or the size of a small mini-van. Printers can range in cost from a few hundred dollars to half a million dollars. Their unifying trait is that they follow instructions from a computer to place raw materials into layers to form a three-dimensional object." --p.65    For more than a decade I have been reading and reviewing nonfiction books on Amazon.com. My reading covers a wide array of subject matter including history and …
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Paul Tognetti ()
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I guess I would qualify as a frustrated writer. My work requires very little writing and so since 1999 I have been writing reviews on non-fiction books and anthology CD's on amazon.com. I never could … more
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Fabricated tells the story of 3D printers, humble manufacturing machines that are bursting out of the factory and into schools, kitchens, hospitals, even onto the fashion catwalk.  Fabricated describes our emerging world of printable products, where people design and 3D print their own creations as easily as they edit an online document. 

A 3D printer transforms digital information into a physical object by carrying out instructions from an electronic design file, or “blueprint.”  Guided by a design file, a 3D printer lays down layer after layer of a raw material to “print” out an object.   That’s not the whole story, however.   The magic happens when you plug a 3D printer into today’s mind-boggling digital technologies.  Add to that the Internet, tiny, low cost electronic circuitry, radical advances in materials science and biotech and voila!  The result is an explosion of technological and social innovation.  

Fabricated takes the reader onto a rich and fulfilling journey that explores how 3D printing is poised to impact nearly every part of our lives.

Readers will meet pioneering teachers, small businesses, artists, surgeons and researchers who are applying 3D printing and innovative design software to expand the limits of what they do 
Non-experts will learn the basics of 3D printing technologies and design software as explained in lucid, non-technical language
Readers will...

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