"3D printing is opening up a whole new area of products that weren't possible before," he said. "You couldn't do custom products at reasonable cost before."
He commented on the fact that the technology eliminates concerns about shape and complexity as well as the need for craftsmanship or capital-intensive equipment. "You can make a 3D model and print it and we can make the exact same part anywhere - the bottom of the ocean, around the world. That has huge possibilities," he said.
Still, a limitation of 3D printing is that "things go up as cubed power-the power of 3," Bass explained. "If I want to make something twice as big, it takes 8 times as long; 3 times as big takes 64 times longer. You will always be fighting that. There will be breakthroughs and things we can do in parallel, but biological processes get around that." It's why the more promising future for manufacturing is biological, he said.
Bass explained how manufacturers are harnessing new tools to be able to grow more than just food differently. Today, DNA can be mail-ordered, manipulated and 3D-printed with little information. The code for Ebola virus, for instance, is contained in 2,000 bits of information; a megabit of information comprises the oak tree. "That's a relatively small amount of information that we need to manipulate to get outcomes that we know of," Bass said. "At Autodesk, we're asking, 'What lessons can we bring from what we learned in helping people design in the inert world and bring that to the biological world?'"
Autodesk's Ember™ 3D printer will be a reference design for the Spark 3D printing platform, which is setting a new benchmark for the 3D printing user experience. For materials scientists, software developers, research institutions, makers and industry leaders, the Ember Explorer program is designed to provide access to an early build of the Ember™ 3D printer. To ensure a diverse team and the most productive experience for all involved, program participation will be limited to those approved users who have requested and received an Access Pass.
Qualified approved Explorers will be able to purchase the Ember Explorer package, which includes the early build SLA DLP-based Ember printer, Ember Explorer supplies, Ember Explorer finishing kit, exclusive access to dedicated technical support, information and events, and the option to provide direct feedback and impact the final production of the Ember printer.