Indeed, we've heard a lot about 3-D printing, and how that new technology will revolutionize manufacturing, point-of-purchase sales, retail, and online business transactions. It will greatly affect the distribution and transportation industry as it will make the supply chain ultra-efficient. This will save fuel, but it will also be tough on shipping companies because the products no longer need to be shipped. The material used in 3-D printing will have to be shipped, but it will be sold in bulk, and all the manufacturing will be done on site by the end user.
Now then, we've also heard a lot about how UAVs or unmanned aerial vehicles and unmanned aerial systems are changing the way we fight wars. In the future they will begin to change the way that we do domestic policing, environmental sensing, aerial firefighting, and hurricane tracking. Of course, those are just a few of the domestic uses we will see in the very near future.
Okay so, now I'd like to philosophically discuss what happens when you take to leading-edge technologies which have come to fruition, and are actually available and combine them together. In many ways this is what Ray Kurzweil discusses when talking about the "singularity" where all sorts of new technologies come onto the scene all at the same time, and they start to affect every single industry. Much how computers already have or how mobile technology is doing right now.
Consider if you will nanotech, biotech, robotics, alternative energy, artificial intelligence, 3-D printing, and UAVs and these are just but a few of the new technologies which will be hyper-advancing in the near future. Indeed, they will combine amongst themselves in unique ways, along with every other industry known to mankind.
There was an interesting article recently in Plastics Today titled; "UAV airframe printed from polyamide," by Stephen Moore, which was published: November 21st, 2012. Okay so, now you can see how unmanned aerial vehicles and 3-D printing are working together. You might also consider the remote bases around the world that the US military and CIA uses to fly these drones from. In these areas it is hard to get parts when needed for these unmanned aerial systems.
However, if you need a part, you can just print a new one, you don't need it shipped, nor do you have to wait for the supply chain to catch up. It means more uptime for the UAVs, and the same thing will occur in the airline industry, which will make the airlines more efficient as well. It will affect the general aviation just as it affects construction, agriculture, and heavy equipment parts. 3-D printing will change quite a bit, and this is just the tip of the iceberg. Stay tuned. Please consider all this and think on it.