Melbourne, Australia is now the city that contains the world’s largest known 3D printer. Melbourne based manufacturer Titomic recently displayed their accomplishment by printing a large metal rendering of their corporate logo.
Among the objects listed as capable of being printed by the Australian 3D printer, the CEO of Titomic Jeff Lang reports that it can print a submarine, or wings for an aircraft: soon.
At the Titomic factory in Waverly, Australia in the outer regions of Melbourne, this 9 metre long, 3 metre wide and 1.5 metre tall 3D printer now surpasses the next largest, owned by notorious General Electric. GE’s printer is about 5 times less large.
The printer owned by General Electric is capable of printing solid metal objects up to a cubic metre in size, while this Titomic bed can put out parts up to 40 cubic metres in size.
Here’s where this story gets realistic: you know their ability to develop this technology came with strings attached.
A government agency in Australia gave out a significant portion of funds to create this 3D printer. It was CSIRO who supplied the funds, the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation. Remember, Australia is still fully a Commonwealth nation, under the control of Britain in more respects than one may care to admit.
In the UK, research is financially controlled by the government in a similar fashion. Research grants are provided by the government very often, specifically to satisfy the needs of the government and not the common people.
People think of 3D printing as a decentralization of power thing, a technology that if properly utilized by the common people, could really lessen our dependency on corporate manufacturing and centralized power. Naturally, the people who want to preserve their power are going to develop it first because they have the money. However, elite organizations developing 3D printers and the common people using them are not mutually exclusive. What people have to do is be empowered with the ability to skirt possible regulations on 3D printers.
So with the help of government funds from CSIRO, they have developed and patented a new way to harvest the abundant titanium sands of Australia.
In fact, the entire company Titomic was started essentially by the government agency CSIRO, because in 2009 CSIRO extended an invitation to Lang to participate in a project with them. They said that he “jumped on that opportunity to look at the potential for what digital manufacturing of metal really could be.”
Some mutual exchanges were made and Titomic gave funds to CSIRO for research. Mixing corporate, government, and institutional power, Titomic actually passed the 3D printing patent onto CSIRO, as Lang describes, in order to “give us that one more level of protection.” The most important part of this patent is reportedly about the construction of load-bearing structures.
CSIRO won a landmark legal case against global phone manufacturers concerning WiFi.
“When we look at carbon fibre parts they generally make a hollow part called a monocoque construction,” Lang said.
“We’re sort of at the stage now where we can achieve that with metal, large scale metal parts. Preferably out of titanium but we think that we can use any metal.”
By using fewer parts, Titomic figures they can make things lighter and stronger. For example, this complete bicycle frame was successfully printed in 25 minutes.
While the process of corporations and government funded entities latching onto technology that could either be considered good, neutral, or bad for the civilian class should be observed, there’s something that should be observed closer.
As long as regular people retain the ability to use new, potentially freedom-inspiring technologies such as 3D printing, it matters little what the big corporations and governments do, as long as they don’t do it to us. People who pay attention out of habit and wisdom should pay attention, but if we focus on what we can build and be positive in that sense, we may accomplish more than simply talking about what these people are doing.