Friday, 19 October 2007


Manufacturing technology has been marching toward faster and greater control of structured materials for millennia. Yet even the most advanced manufacturing technologies - electron-beam lithography, laser scanners, autonomous robots, and the like - have come dripping out of factories; at first with high price tags and narrow application, and then eventually cheaper and with broader function.

But Instant Production Technology (IPT) is something new and fundamental; it is not just another twenty-first century gadget. It is the gadget or all gadgets. IPT will be more like the computer: a flexible technology with a huge range of applications. And this kind of advanced technology will not come trickling out of conventional factories and substitute or up grade products. It will explode out of twentieth-century trends in science, and revolutionise twenty-first-century trend-lines in technology, economics and environmental affairs.

The aim and contents of paper.
The aim of this paper is to give the reader first insights into the coming age of Instant
Production Technology. Presented in four parts, this paper begins to highlight:
1: Key Trends in Rapid Manufacturing and Prototyping (RaMP).
Price-Performance Projections in RaMP.
Miniaturisation Projections in RaMP.

2: Multiplicative Processes and Nanofacturing.
Multiplicative RaMP.
Nanofacturing: Toward Molecular Rapid Manufacturing.

3: The Future: The Emergence of Instant Production Technology (IPT).
Year 2010+: Frenzy: The Race for Multiplicative and Nano RaMP.
Year 2015+: Zap: The Emergence of Instant Production Technology.
Year 2020+: Hocuspocus: Top Down Hybrid IPT on an Industrial Scale.
Year 2025+: Just Add Water TVs: At Home with Bottom-Up IPT.
4: What Will the New Industrial Revolution Ultimately Mean?

This first insight paper is supported with a more comprehensive paper, Instant Production Technology and the New industrial Revolution: Deeper Insights. Which you will find on your TCT2006 CD-R, to read at your leisure.

Part 1
Key Trends in Rapid Prototyping and Manufacturing (RaMP).

Trends give strong indications for the trajectory of technology. Below is a set of empirical trends indirectly and directly relating to RaMP technology, that indicted two key development paths: enhanced price-performance & technological miniaturisation.

Price-Performance Projection in RaMP Technology.
Expressed in the classic Millions of Instructions Per Second (MIPS), it took 90 years to achieve the first MIPS, per £1000 from the year 1900 when 1 calculation per second was first attained. We now add one MIP per £1000 every few hours. The IBM Blue Gene/P - the most powerful computer on earth (due to be launched in 2007) - offers almost 1 million gigaflops (or 1015 MIPS). And at a price tag very close to £2 million; that means each MIPS costs £0.000000002 (2*10-9 pence per MIPS).

Expressed in MIPS again, by 2010 Personal Computers (PCs) with a price tag of around £1000, will reach 1012 MIPS; then quadruple again by 2015, and then by eight fold by 2020. If this trend line keeps on going, then by 2025 home computers will have a computing power approaching the IBM Blue Gene/P supercomputer; all for the price of today’s standard PC (just imagine the applications the average individual will run).
As with all technology related to information, RaMP technology will follow rapid and significant price-performance improvements over the next 20 years.

In 1986 Charles Hull’s Stereolithography retailed at £250,000 (3).
In 1995 Sony’s Stereolithography tagged £100,000 (4).
In 2000 Z Corporations 3D printer was prices at £45,000 (5).
In 2006 Dimensions entry level 3D printer is prices at a mere £14,900 (6).
Continue this price trend, and by 2012 expect to see professional 3D RaMP technologies drop to £7000.
Innovations in desktop 3D printers will bring low resolution printers to the consumer at around £999, by 2012+.
Rapid Manufacturing (RM) trends will follow a similar path. By 2015, RM industry will be a £multi-billion industry world wide.

Miniaturisation in RaMP:
We can all see that technology - mechanical and electronic - is shrinking. But by how much and how rapidly are these incredible machines shrinking?
The state-of-art electronic valve in 1955 measured 100 cubic mm, and represented 0.002 calculations per second (7).
In 1965 the first transistor measured 0.1, and offered 1,000 calculations per second (8).
In 1985, the Intel 36bit 80386 microprocessor, the size of a postage stamp, gave 25 million calculations per second (9).
In 2006 Intel 64bit Xeon microprocessor, the size of thumbnail, offers 1.7 billion calculations per second (10).
If you extend the trend lines out two decades, active electronic and mechanical component size will be molecular-scale.
In line with this general technological trend, microminiaturisation will continue to be one of the most dominant and uncompromising trends for the RaMP industry.
In 1987 Charles Hull’s first Stereolithography printer achieved 0.25mm resolution (11).
In 2000 Sony’s Stereolithography achieved 0.1mm resolution (12).
In 2006 Sony’s Stereolithography achieves 0.05mm resolution (13).
Extending this trend out to 2020, we can expect molecular size rapid manufacturing to be common place.
Part 2
Multiplicative Processes and Nanofacturing.

The list of rapid manufacturing and prototyping technology has increased dramatically over the last two decades; and far too large to catalogue in a single paper.
However, by investigating two strategic RaMP technologies, we will gain insights into the overall potential.
Multiplicative RaMP.
One of the primary goals for the RaMP industry over the next decade will be to migrate from technologies that produce discrete-functional prototypes toward technologies that manufacture multi-functional prototypes.
A key technology in development that begins to address this, is so-called Multiplicative RaMP technology.
Two core-technologies; namely Multifunctional Inks and Multifunctional Deposition Heads form the core of multiplicative RaMP
Multifunctional inks. Functional inks are a subset of a much larger group of substances, called functional materials. Otherwise know as smart or dynamic materials; functional materials have specific active behaviours and properties.
Multifunctional inks enable the manufacture complex active components with three-dimensional gradients and differentiated structures; say from sliver to plastic polymer.
For example, IFAM, a German R&D led materials manufacturer, are developing integrated 3D printing techniques that utilise multifunctional inks to produce gradient materials that form as local phases, resulting customized and integrated component functions. Early results have achieved 3D printing of discrete electrical components such a resistors and diodes. Some headway has been achieved with active electrical components such as simple integrated circuits.
IFAM n-functional inks recently attained results in the formation of conductive rings while drying drops of silver dispersions at room temperature. It was found that during drying an individual droplet, a ring is formed at its perimeter. This ring is composed of closely packed silver and polymer nanoparticles. Such rings were shown to possess very high electrical conductivity at room temperature without any additional sintering.
This breakthrough alone takes RaMP technology to a new level, whilst hugely reducing production cycle-time. The aim of IFAM over the next five years will be to commercialise multifunctional inks that enable such n-functionality (14).
Multiplicative deposition heads. Multiplicative processes, not just additive processes, is the near future of RaMP. There are numerous multiplicative process technologies just around the corner ready to revolutionise the RaMP industry.
One of the most imminent and disruptive technologies is the so-called inkjet-multihead. The multihead is one of the prime enabling technologies for geometrically complex, differentiated gradients and active multifunctional materials.
One advanced R&D example is the integration of the IFAM’s 3D microsystem (18).

[Figure 2.1: IFAM’s Microsystem]

[Figure 2.2: IFAM’s Multifunctional Deposition Head]

The kit, now in advanced R&D, is suited for the fast manufacturing of complex shaped components with three dimensional gradient structures. Current 3D printer heads - which build up objects from layers of melted metal powder, melted plastic powder or quick-drying ink-jet ink - print comparatively slowly as it takes time for each stratum to dry.
However, the goal of multihead deposition is to be printed layer by layer, using independent, but closely coupled nozzles, at the sub-micron level, without any post processing.
Complete multifunctional products in one hit.
Together, multifunctional inks and deposition heads mean a major milestone for RaMP technology: to print out complete functional components and assemblies in one hit.
For example, the notion of printing out a working television remote controller may seem outlandish, but a team of engineers at the University of California are developing multiplicative inkjet heads that does just that. Instead of fabricating a plastic housing and then arduously populating it with circuit boards, components and connectors, a complete and fully assembled device will be printed in one hit.

[Figure 2.3: Complete multifunctional products in one hit]
This so-called continuous multiplicative process uses electroactive polymers which are built-up layer-by-layer into conducting, semi-conducting and dielectric micro-phases; which can form discrete electronic components - resistors, capacitors, diodes, transistors, light-emitting devices, even semiconductor components - which, in turn, are organised into an appropriate circuits and mechanical assemblies.
Commodity devices such as handheld touches, radios, mobile phones or pocket calculators will emerge as fully working systems, in one hit.
A television remote controller printed as a single continuous multifunctional assembly would contain the buttons, a polymer-based infrared emitter and polymer-based electronics, as well as the light-emitting devices (15) .

Nanofacturing: toward molecular Rapid Manufacturing.
Nano is shorthand for 1 billionth of meter in size, and represents the new scale in engineering development and manufacturing.
For the purpose of the RaMP industry, the broad goal of rapid nanofacturing is to inexpensively arrange atoms into molecules designed for specific tasks; and then self-assemble these custom molecules into macroscale products.
The prototypical nanofacturing kit is a desktop/refrigerator size unit that can manufacture almost physical objects for which we have the design software. Example nanotechnology based products might include: cloths embedded with millions, billions, even trillions of massively parallel supercomputers the size of a speck of dust. Even delicious, piping hot food prepared from raw organic matter in seconds.
However, the key enabler of this kind of nanofacturing capability is the transformation of software (i.e.; information) directly into physical products. As this happens, we will be able to manufacture almost any possible artefact for a few pence per kilo.
Undoubtedly, the potential benefits of such a technology are huge. But how will it happen? From my twenty ongoing years of nanotechnology research, broadly speaking, I would say nanotechnology will begin to emerge through four decisive, but somewhat overlapping generations.

1G Nanofacturing: nanoscale engineering: This is the stage we are now at, and have made much head way. We now have technology that can distinguish and manipulate atoms, one by one. Chemical synthesis also comes under 1G nanotech. We have for sometime been able to create complex molecules to order. However, there is some contention to whether any of this is actually nanotechnology.
Many scientists say that today’s nanotechnology is sophisticated extensions of contemporary material science and chemistry (e.g. nanopowders found in functional inks above). Whatever the view - as you will see - it is certainly nanoscale engineering.
One of the most common and best-known type of nanomaterials in use today is the Carbon Nanotube, which have a staggering array of uses. By 2010, nanotube market demand is projected to have a value nearing $15 billion. The carbon nanotube is essentially hexagonal array of carbon atoms assembled in three-dimensions and rolled up into a cylinder. Carbon nanotubes are amazingly strong. Nanotransistors and diodes have been made from nanotubes (16).
Another milestone is the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory nanoscale motor: a gold rotor on a nanotube shaft that could easily ride on the back of a virus. It is the smallest synthetic motor made to date; and proves that nanotubes and other nanostructures several hundred times smaller than the diameter of a human hair can be manipulated and assembled into useful devices (17).

[Figure 2.4: The Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory‘s, nanoscale motor]

It is also the first device that can be connect external by nanowires; it is the first top-down nanomachine one can control. Because the rotor can be positioned at any angle, the motor could be used in optical circuits to redirect light; a process called optical switching. The rotor can be rapidly flipped back and forth to create a microwave oscillator or a rotor that may be used to mix liquids in microfluidic devices.
2G Nanofacturing: Breakthroughs in Self-Assembled Nanoproducts: This is the stage we are now entering. Some promising second generation nanofacturing (2GN) experiments have broken through in the last few years.
I have to say that the most obvious proof of the feasibility of 2GN is biological life itself. The information basis of life, DNA, has not only relevance, but specific ideas gained from life’s information processes are applicable to the design of molecular self-assembly.
Consider how living biology solves some of the design challenges of the nanoassemblers. Molecules inside a living cell are built atomically by precisely controlling specific bond-forming and bond-breaking reactions. What makes this self-organising process work is a molecular software code we know as DNA. This code is supported by a set of biochemical machines that translate these linear DNA sequences into strings of simple building blocks called amino acids, which are in turn fold up into three-dimensional proteins, which make up all living cells that form every living organisms on the planet from bacteria to us humans (18).
Important steps in self-assembling mechanism were recently demonstrated by 2GN researches:
Nanohands: Grasping and letting go of molecular objects in a controlled manner is another important enabling capability for 2G nanoassembly. A research team at the Ludwig Maximilian University have seen through a scanning tunnelling microscope, a DNA-hand self-organise. The nanohand can select one of several proteins from another DNA strand, then grip and release single molecules. The nanohand can be made to select many types of proteins, and could eventually be used to construct materials or machines molecule-by-molecule. The researchers used so-called DNA branch migration to construct the DNA hand, a method that allows nanostructure to switch between several arrangements. Demonstrations have shown that the nanohand can repeatedly grab and drop molecules at incredibly high speeds. Simple applications are expected in two to five years, and more advanced in five years (19).
Nanoengines: Boston College chemistry Professor T. Ross Kelly has constructed a chemically powered engine out of seventy-eight atoms. The research involves the application of organic synthesis of a broad variety of molecules, some of which occur in nature, some designed to solve particular problems or answer specific questions. To wit, they have accomplished a prototype molecular engine by using energy-rich chlorine and carbon monoxide to power the clockwise-only rotation of 7 to 8 atoms. Small beer, you may say. But this is the kind of work that will make up 3G nanofacturing (below). Following the paradigm of the biological cells, Kelly is pursuing the spontaneous self-assembly of simple molecular components. For example, organic zeolites (a large number of minerals consisting of hydrated aluminosilicates) are being used so that metal atoms can be bonded between hydrogen atoms. Potentially, a very useful conducting and semiconducting material will emerge from this work (20).
Self-assembled nanotransistors: The Technion Institute of Technology have developed self-assembling transistors using DNA. This shows one can start with DNA proteins and construct an electronic device. To get the transistors to self assemble, the Technion research team attached a carbon nanotube onto a specific site on a DNA strand, and then attached nanowires at each end of the nanotube. The device is a transistor that can be switched on and off by applying voltage. The goal is to have these nanocircuits self-assemble, enabling large-scale manufacturing of nanoscale electronics (21).
Flowering self-organisation: There are many other techniques being applied to achieve 2G nanotech, one being the complexity science route of emergent self-organisation. Cambridge University’s Nanoscale Science Laboratory are growing beautiful nanoflowers and nanotrees. They are nanoscale wires made with silicone carbide from droplets of liquid metal on a silicone surface. The wires grow as gas containing methane flowing over the surface that react and condense. The emergent patterns self-organise. into complex self-similar structures (22).

[Figure 2.5: Two Self-Organised Silicone Carbide Nanoflowers Produced at Cambridge University ]

When 2GN R&D, and the estimated 1000 or so other research projects around the world mature and converge, it will represent a landmark in manufacturing history. It will mean the beginning of 3G nanofacturing.
3G Nanofacturing: Nanofactories and Bottom-Up Self-Assembled Nanoproducts: This is where it gets exciting. Billions of massively parallel complex self-assembled molecules organised into highly sophisticated nanoproducts. For example, building a crystalline structural wall or predetermined component, such a cylinder or rotary gear.
Molecular mechanics: describes the physics of interatomic bonds (the force fields that stick atoms together). There are four primary interatomic bonds that will be used in 3GN (23):
Ionic force: A relatively weak atomic force. An ionically bonded molecule, while possessing overal neutrality, can be regarded as an electrical dipole. Hence, a large assembly of such molecules will tend to form a symmetrical arrangemnet, or crystales.
van der Waals force: Informally known as the atomic spring force, it causes molecules to move and behave in elastic equilibrium. In other words, it pulls together, yet limits the amount each atom can be pressed together.
Metallic force: In an assembly of metal atoms (e.g.; Fe), the strength of the bonds is due to positive ions permeated by electron clouds, which give extreme mobility of the electron valance, accounting for the high electrical conductivity.
Covalent bond: Much stronger and more stable than Ionic, van der Waal and Metallic forces. Covalent forces cling atoms together with equal strength, acting like a strong spring. Diamond, for example, is held together with covalent forces. Diamond is a highly symmetrical arrangement of carbon atoms, with each atom covalently bonded to four other carbon atoms, in tetrahedral patterns.

Nanochemistry: The interactions between the four forces, which will form Nanoartefacts, are complex, and best describe as a systemic term called Nanochemistry (24).
The main difference between biochemistry and nanochemistry, is that nanochemistry builds components in 3D. This means nanoparts will be much more rigid than a protein, and be made with far fewer building blocks. It will have many more choices of where to attach different atoms and molecules, when compared to a ribosome (the chemical that does the assembling in a living cell) that can only tack it to the end of a protein string.
Nanomachines will also operate in a much wider temperature band, as opposed to a living cell which obviously has limits. +1000/-200 ° C operating temperature will be quite common.
NanoCAD: Design software has been developed specifically for the purpose of simulating and analysing mechanical nanomachines. Nanorex’s nanoENGINEER-1, is a true breakthrough for molecular component design (25).

[Figure 2.6: nanoENGINEER-1 design field]
nanoENGINEER-1 features the ability to cut shapes out of, for example, diamond and silicon carbide for structural parts where atomic detail is less important.
4G Nanofacturing: Complex Custom Nanoproducts: 4GN will build all kinds of consumer durables, constriction materials on site, high performance parts, and most inanimate objects you see in the shopping mall today.
4GN will also turn raw organic matter, which is virtually everywhere on the planet, into delicious piping hot foods, fertilisers and insecticides, and many kinds of pharmaceuticals and medical product right on the spot, for pennies, in remote third world zones.
There is serious conceptual research into and around 4G nanotechnology. If the first 3G nanofactory is diamond-based, 4G nanofactories will assemble a much wider variety of element so that quite exotic nanoproduct can be designed and built.
In sum, the golden age of full blown rapid nanofacturing is 15 to 20 years away (26).
Part 3
The Future: The Emergence of Instant Production Technology (IPT).

I will now give insights on four RaMP/IPT technology epochs: 2010+, 2015+, 2020+, 2025+.
First, to begin to draw an overall picture of the future of the RaMP industry, here is an initial attempt at mapping a timeline, for future RaMP technologies:

[Figure 3.1: timeline for future RaMP technologies]

Year 2010+: Frenzy: The Race for Multiplicative and Nano RaMP.
A major industry goal is to develop integrated multiplicative RM systems that build components and fully assembled end products comparable to off-tool parts.
2G nanotech has moved on rapidly. Experiments with self-assembled molecules give high integrity. Simple nanomachines based on DNA replication paradigms in leading laboratories begin to build basic mechanical and electrical structures. Tiny nanorobots, 500.nm in size, move discrete atoms into simple configuration that resemble cams, shafts, gears and levers. Electrostatic nanomotors drive nanomachines.
Year 2015+: Zap: The Emergence of Instant Production Technology (IPT).
RaMP yield in terms of cycle-time, precision, resolution, complexity, material performance and component variety will reach a critical point where, quite literally, RaMP will come to be known as ‘Instant Production Technology (IPT)’.
The first integrated top-down multiplicative production systems appear, purchased by high-end manufacturers and specialist users, enabling engineers to design and test fully functional prototypes in extremely quick cycles: hours instead of days; days in place of months. Integrated component that merge from one materials to another start to emerge. That means electromechano components - say a toroidal choke with integrated yoke produced all in one hit - become viable for the first time. Investment in multiplicative processes will burgeon.
Year 2020+: Hocuspocus: Top-Down Hybrid IPT on an Industrial Scale.
Arthur C. Clark once wrote ‘any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.’ And if the likes of Mitsubishi and Hewlett Packard have their way, by 2020 completely assembled consumer durables and other sundry items - that‘s roller-skates, electronic calculators, pens, even TVs and eventually all consumer gadgets and gizmos (including the packaging) - will be designed, manufactured and assembled through so-called hybrid top-down IPT, just like magic.
Top-down fully integrated IPT (which exclude 3G-nanotech paradigms) systems begin commercialisation. Such IPT machines will range in scale from the humble bread bin to the size of a small house. The typical anatomy of such eclectic kit will consist of microelectromechanical assembly systems incorporating a suite of ultra-refined, super-tolerance, and uniquely novel rapid manufacturing technologies by today‘s standards. Expect to see seminal hybrid IPT integrating microlasers (sub-micron cut/etch), microminture transfer systems, miniature x-ray lithography, hybrid/smart fusion materials, and automated microscopy inspection.
3G nanofacturing begins. Here, molecular building blocks 0.005 to 0.0001 percent the width of a human hair amass in both isotropic and anisotropic crystalline substraights (e.g.; cotton, elastomers, ceramics, metallic alloys, etc) and assembled systems (e.g.; blue jeans, car tiers, eye glasses, gear trains, etc).
Hybrid IPT and 3G nanofacturing begin competing. OEMs purchase top of the range hybrid IPT or 3G nanofactories: OEMs are still confused about which technology is best (recall CAD c.1985). However, vast amounts of money is saved in manufacturing, distribution and warehousing. OEMs also gear up for more high-end and specialist production; where IPT cannot yet meet. This is a vast market and highly profitable.
The value of goods manufactured via both 3G nanofacturing/multiplicative RaMP are largely now result of expanding complexity of their information content. Intellectual property (IP) issues begin the take precedence in international affairs. If you can down load the encoded blue prints and print out most any artefacts for pennies, then who owns what will shoot up the list of priorities. Much like the litigation and fuss we have today (2006) with MP3 music down loading.
Year 2025+: Just Add Water TVs: At Home with Bottom-Up IPT.
By 2025, 3G nanotechnology will be widely adopted. Disparate and top-down hybrid IPT methods will begin to be phased out.
4G bottom-up nanofacturing will be coming out of the labs. Complex organic multidimensional molecules - approaching that found in nature’s kitchen - will be created from the bottom-up, instantly. Nanofactories capable of producing high protein vitamin rich synthetic food will give hope to the remaining poverty stricken nations. With such IPT systems, the cost of manufacture is unrelated to the complexity of the product.
Consumer nanofactories such as countertop synthesisers and matter printers will begin to revolutionise the way house hold objects are acquired. TVs and eventually all small domestic size consumer gadgets are printed out at home.
The range of products will be limited far more by human imagination than by technological restrictions. Products will be revolutionary by today's standards. For example, the capability to pack a supercomputer in a grain of sand will spring forth artefacts of mind-blowing extent. This combined with more capable sensors, displays and actuators will allow remarkable robotic devices produced quickly and efficiently
High performance product design, development and verification will still be very costly; but once designed, units can be manufactured in quantity - that’s Ferraris, SCRAM jets, up to and including beef stake, milkshake in a glass and fries on the side - all for pennies per kilogram.
This is the point where an artefact’s scale, resolution and complexity ceases to have a relative material economic magnitude.

Part 4
What Will the New Industrial Revolution Ultimately Mean?

The most significant and heart warming of all is that Instant Production Technology and the New Industrial Revolution will mean the end of poverty. It will not mean that everyone on the planet living in luxury (although standards of living will rise dramatically world wide); in 2020/2025 people will still have to add value to make a good standard of living (as above).
This is chiefly because ending poverty is a technological issue, not only an economic or political problem. Economic and political policy facilitate; but in the end technology will be the root cause of ending poverty. Forget the theory, let us talk commonsense. As technology has advanced, productivity has increased, and standards of living has improved, period.
Hence, IPT will not only raise stands of living for every single person on this planet; it will completely and utterly eradicate poverty for good.
For the 3 billion people that live on less than a pound a day, for 85 percent of childhood deaths that are due to malnutrition, and 75 percent of disease that is due to malnutrition, for the 1 million of children that die of such malnutrition every year; for them, poverty will be over. Basic commodity tools and essential dietary foods will be readily and freely available instantly.
I would argue that the owners of IPT IP should allow free, but limited use for humanitarian purposes. To put this in perspective, the profits to be made from selling the information to instantly produce water filters and mosquito netting are miniscule compared with the profits from selling the information to instantly produce high-end luxury goods. Value-added in the west and developing east will not in the least be affected if limited free use of IPT was granted in third world nations.

There are billions of people in the world today who have almost no way of earning money. Many of these people are sick and dying from malnutrition and disease, but may not be able to pay licensing fees for cheap IPT products that would keep them alive. Global security, as well as humanitarian considerations, demand that their basic material needs be provided whether or not they can pay.

And let me leave you with this thought: if poverty was all but eradicate, perhaps the world’s conflicts would calm down somewhat.