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Unexpected Consequences

July 20, 2013

Filed under: 3D printing,additive manufacturing — Terry Wohlers @ 06:44

When President Obama named 3D printing in his February 2013 State of the Union address, I doubt he had any idea the impact it would have. He said, “3D printing has the potential to revolutionize the way we make almost everything.” Countless websites, bloggers, reporters, and others have made reference to this statement.

At the May 2013 World 3D Printing Technology Industry Conference in Beijing, China, no fewer than five Chinese speakers mentioned Obama’s statement in the first morning of the event. They credited him for creating the almost frenzy-like attention that the technology has been receiving in recent months. And, many Chinese believe that 3D printing is the next big thing.

Obama’s remark more than lit a spark in China. It has ignited a raging fire of activity throughout the country. The central government is sponsoring programs and provincial and city governments are doing the same. The activity started in Beijing and then moved to the Anhui province. Most recently, activity and interest are gaining in the Guangdong province, and it is believed that other provinces will soon get involved.

We have never seen so much interest and activity develop so quickly in a single country. As part of it, our company is receiving an unprecedented number of inquires and requests from China. President Obama indeed started something big with his comment in February, but I don’t believe he and his advisers knew that it would lead to what is now underway in China.

Looking Ahead

July 8, 2013

Filed under: life — Terry Wohlers @ 17:36

My wife, Diane, and I were riding our mountain bikes along Lake Dillon three days ago. We were on a paved bike path and about to cross the dam. Diane was in the lead and to the right of us was Lake Dillon. I looked to my right and noticed a steep drop off with rocks leading to the water. I wondered to myself what would happen if you were to accidentally go down at that point on a bike. Would you reach the water? At that moment, the rocks and water were obstructed from view and then they came back into view. I looked to my right to get a good look.

In less than a second, I heard the crashing of metal against metal and felt my bike and body hitting something very solid. I hit the ground hard, landing on small and large rocks. Much of the 84 kg (185 lbs) of my body weight landed on my right shoulder. Fortunately, I was wearing a helmet.

Diane heard the crash and turned around. In seconds, I was on my feet, but not feeling well. Using my left hand, I grabbed my right shoulder and could feel a bone in a place that I had never felt before and knew something was not right. I observed the 30-cm (12-inch) diameter steel and concrete pylon that I hit, head-on. The pylon was located in the middle of the bike path to prevent automobiles from driving onto the path.

Weighing our options, Diane and I decided to peddle back to Frisco and then go by car to a medical clinic. The 20-minute ride to our place in Frisco was not much fun, but not as painful as it sounds. Two people asked if I had injured my shoulder because of the way I was holding my right arm tight against my body. Both offered assistance, but I declined.

The doctor studied three x-rays of my shoulder, examined me, and determined that I had torn a ligament that holds together the acromioclavicular (AC) joint. She said I may have done additional damage, but could not tell without more sophisticated medical imaging, such as CT or MRI. She recommended that I see an orthopedic specialist as soon as possible.

The moral of the story is to always keep your eyes on the route in front of you, and this applies not only to riding a bike. The only other time I had a fairly significant bike accident in recent years was when I took my eyes off the path when mountain biking. Riding a bike is a lot like other sports, such as snow skiing. You want to “see” a line in front of you and then follow that line. If you can’t visualize it, you can’t follow it, so something unintended could happen.