Thanks so much for everyone’s support and interest in the blog. I’m not blowing away any records but traffic has been growing steadily and I couldn’t be happier.
Today we will be discussing some tweeks and advancements that will take 3D printing to the next level. These developments will make the device a true world changer. In my opinion a sufficiently advanced 3D printer will have a greater impact then the printing press, antibiotics, the transistor and even the internet. In this post I’ll focus on two additions to the 3D printing that are simply the synthesis between already existing technologies. Nothing new needs to be invented.
I can’t think of a thing that wouldn’t be better with a little nuclear fusion. Or maybe a lot of nuclear fusion. The benefits would be two fold. The first benefit of nuclear fusion is the amount of power that is released during the process. Fusing together two hydrogen ions, or protons, releases enormous amounts of energy, relative to the mass of the protons of course. Aside from matter-antimatter fusion proton-proton fusion is the most powerful process that we know of. It also has some very interesting byproducts. Unlike nuclear fission which produces dangerous radioactive heavy elements, fusion produces stable lighter elements as its waste. These waste products would be used as starting material to be used in the printer and the energy released can be used to power the printer with a great excess that will be used to power your house, car, etc.
Through the process of nucleosynthesis, aka the creation of heavier atomic nuclei, fusing protons will produce heavier elements. This process releases energy up until the production of Iron. After that the process becomes endothermic, or it requires more energy to make these things than is released. The basic process is that you would take two protons and smash them together, one of the protons degrades into a neutron and the element is called Deuterium. Then Deuterium is fused together with another proton, the proton degrades into a neutron and yet a new element is produced which is called Tritium. Deuterium and Tritium are isotopes of hydrogen in case you were wondering. If you fuse another proton to Tritium the result is something more familiar: Helium!
Nucleosynthesis occurs in stars and nuclear reactors but it also takes place in particle accelerators. Particle accelerators tend to be very large but they have shrunk dramatically in size over the decades. As of about 15 years ago they have been shrunk down to the size of a room. That might be small enough for our purposes but I imagine there are some that are even smaller by now, if not I would imagine they are on the horizon.
My other tweak that I thought of would be to integrate nanotechnology that would be able to assemble molecules from the elements that we produced in the previous step. Once we have these more complex compounds we would be able to assemble most anything we could design. I don’t think we would need to look any further than nature for inspiration. Organic processes in animals in plants produce a whole host of useful compounds. For example the chloroplasts in plants make sugars of many variety. These sugars can be linked together to form complex carbohydrates such as wood or chitin, the protective shell of insects. We will be able to mirror a lot of these methods and expand on them to build inorganic compounds as well.
What are your thoughts? What would you change or add to the 3D printing process to improve the technology?