[extropy-chat] 3D printers, eink scanner wands, protein producers

Robert J. Bradbury bradbury at aeiveos.com
Thu Feb 12 13:16:46 UTC 2004

On Thu, 12 Feb 2004, Avatar Polymorph wrote:

> Would it be possible to combine 3-D printers with a materials assembler (and
> also possibly printed circuits, which are being worked on by one of the eink
> scientist founders, and flat batteries (some are 'paper' batteries))?

There is no problem with this with perhaps 2 exceptions (a) current 3-D
printing methods do not have atomic precision -- the only way I see to
solve this problem with current technology would be to combine 3-D printing
with self-assembly (something that might be well underway); and (b) the
current 3-D printing methods are *slow* -- that isn't a show stopper --
one could argue that plasma etching methods for integrated circuits are slow
(I really do not know since I don't know the details of semiconductor technology
that well -- but I suspect these methods are in the general context "slow").
The slowness involves a combination of basic physics issues as well as parallelism

> Different sized heads (choice of), different materials being exuded,
> controlled printing environment (pressure, temperature)...

This is discussed to some extent in several chapters of Nanosystems involving
various atomic assembly (esp. mechanosynthesis) methods.  It certainly seems
reasonable to me that it might be upscaled into the 10-50 nanometer range
(if we consider "real" nanotech has to be construction on a much less than
10 nm range...).

(For uninformed readers -- the "standard" definition of nanotech right now
is for technology on the 1 to 100 nanometer range (this is from the National
Science Foundation).  Standard semiconductor technology will over the next
couple of years break the sub 100 nm range.  Chemists are still stuck largely
working in the much less than 10 nm range.  Most biology happens on perhaps
the 1 to 30 nm range (taking into account everything from neurotransmitters
to ribosomes).

Eugen a couple of months ago posted a very educational reference on these size
scales if people want to look it up.

It would be my observation (considering that I'm one of the few people who
have looked at objects that might be light years in size constructed from
nanoscale materials) (nod of hat to Anders, Robin, Spike and others who have
contributed to this thought pathway) -- that in general people are not
comfortable with the necessary scaling that the universe presents to us.


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