April 10, 2013

3D Printing - The Next Gen Manufacturing Technology!

Hi Guys,

One of the modern technologies that has been gaining a lot of momentum is 3D Printing. It is a technology that has captivated me for some time. This technology is said to be the future of manufacturing and it will be able to replace many of the traditional methods. So far the concept of Mass Customization has been difficult to achieve. But this technology is capable to creating really Customized products.

Generally all the traditional machining works are done by taking a metal (or material) and removing the unwanted portions from the material. All the traditional methods that are done with the help of Lathe, Planers, Milling Machines, Drilling machines are based on this method of material removal.

Objects printed with a 3D printer
3D printing is something different. You design the object in computer software. You feed the design to a 3D printer. The object is designed by means of Additive process. It means that the material is laid down successively in different shapes and the end product is formed.

The 3D printing machines are expensive. In particular if you want 3D printer that will be able to work on Metals it is very expensive since technologies like Electron Beam and Direct Metal Laser Beam are required. Currently the technology is commonly used with Thermoplastics and Polymer materials as they have a low melting point.

The uses of this technology are very vast. Imagine a Jewellery shop. With the help of this technology they will be able to create a vast amount of models in a matter of few minutes. A customer can find out whether a model would be good or not by means of a prototype. In fields like Dental care and Healthcare, where many minute dimensions come into play, this technology can help improving the efficiency.

Generally all the big manufacturing industries that work in Niche areas like Aerospace, Power plants, Architectures where each design is different, create prototypes before constructing the actual model. This technology can redefine the creation of Prototype. It can create prototypes accurately and save lot of time. Due to this, a concept called Rapid Prototyping has come.

Creation of models does not look like a difficult process any more. I have seen lot of students come up with good models in CAD software, but creating a real model is a very difficult task.

The cost of 3D printers has also come down within a short span of time. It is said that a 3D printer that cost $20000 in 2010 costs just $1000 now. In the next few years, it will cost even low. This has created a lot of interest among designers who now have the real chance of seeing their designs transform into live models.

I found this video on Youtube that portrays how the 3D printer can change the future world and how it has been progressing. It is a 6 minute Video.

If you have free time, check Wikipedia about 3D printing and you will be able to gather more information.

Happy Reading!!!

April 2, 2013

Outliers: The Story of Success - Malcolm Gladwell - Book Review

Hi Guys,

After reading Malcolm Gladwell’s ‘The Tipping Point’, I decided to read his other famous book ‘Outliers: The Story of Success’

Malcolm Gladwell has written this book with the aim of finding out what separates the successful people from the rest of the group. What is it that takes them to the highest level?

Generally we associate Success with Intelligence, Talent and Ambition. Gladwell argues that there is something apart from these factors that make some people successful. By taking real life examples and statistics, Gladwell has done a good job of finding out the factors.

The book is divided into two parts namely Opportunity and Legacy. In the first part he argues that how much ever talented a person is if he doesn’t get the opportunity he won’t succeed. He takes the case of Canadian Hockey Players and finds out how majority of the players are born in the early months of a year. Just because that the cut off date is December 31, the children born in January have a head start, they get more training, more opportunity and this small difference at the starting accumulates further. Similar things happen in the school life too where elder children always have an upper hand.

After this he comes to birth year and finds out how certain phases are brightest phases and how there are so many successful people from that phase. For example, he says all the Computer companies founders like Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, Michael Dell were born around 1955 and how it helped them to catch up with computer when they were in their 20s. He also finds out how excess opportunities helped them in the way.

Further he says that 10000 hours of practice is required to excel in any field and takes example from Bill Gates, The Beatles and associate with earlier examples. He argues that people with higher IQs can’t become Einsteins if they don’t get opportunity.

In the second part ‘Legacy’ he finds out how culture and history are important contributors to Success. He finds out how children from richer background are smarter than children from poor background, but have an inherent advantage due to the time their parents are able to spend with them. Further he analyzes the power distance relationship and finds out how certain countries perform in a different manner.

He then moves into an interesting topic of why Asians are good in maths. The main factor he says is the legacy of working in paddy fields which requires both hard and smart work. He compares different lifestyles and figure out the inherent advantage the Asian kids have (Asians as in Chinese, Japanese, etc as per the book. But I thought that most of the parameters he said are true with Indians too).

Finally he presents a case study of a school in USA, where the children are put into hard work so that they outperform others. It is interesting that he has concluded the book with his own history of how he became what he is, because of things that happened generations back.

This is what I interpreted from the book – Talent is required to be successful. But it is not enough. You need to work hard. You need to get the right opportunities. Your culture would have shaped you in a particular manner. If it is not suitable, you need to work hard to change that. Beyond that there are lot of uncontrollable things that can be called as Luck.

Some features in the book seem quite exaggerated or too simplistic. But it is an interesting book that would kindle your mind to think in new dimensions that you had never thought before.

Happy Reading!!!