Bill Gates once said that we overestimate the amount of progress we will see in the next two years, but underestimate what we’ll see in the next 10. But thanks to some of the amazing innovations that we’ve seen just in the last 12 months I wonder whether he needs to refine what he said. Perhaps the statement should not be that we overestimate the amount of progress we’ll see in the next two months. And underestimate what we’ll see in the next twelve.
Certainly that’s the sense you’re left with after looking back at what has happened in the world of science and engineering.
If you had been paying close attention to the news last year, you’d have noticed that the world saw the introduction of the first ever 3D printed car. The Strati, made by Local Motors was a head turner you could say. And it really did look like it had been printed.
Jay Rogers, the man behind the car, showed off his new prototype at the International Manufacturing Technology Show. The reason so many people were excited about the car was not it’s looks, but what the technology meant for manufacturing.
Cars have always been the quintessentially manufactured product. Yet, here was a company that promised to do away with the old production lines and wasted materials of traditional car manufacture. Instead, Rogers proposed that you could make a car without wasting any material or employing massive production lines. You could simply print them out like you would a document and then drive them home.
Once the process is mature, the cars will look a lot better. And they’ll also be a heck of a lot cheaper. Roger’s imagines a time when a car can just be printed out in remote Alaska for the fraction of the cost and with no delivery costs.
Better Oil Extraction
Drilling for oil now has something of a bad reputation in some circles. However, drilling for oil is still a necessity if we want to continue living comfortable lives. In recent years, we’ve seen an explosion of innovation in finding oil, from fracking to deep ground surveying. It’s all meant that the price of finding and getting oil has fallen markedly. One of the most exciting developments recently is the improved swivel seal.
When drilling for oil, companies use a drilling fluid. But this fluid is abrasive and destroys traditional seals. New seals, however, are more robust, which means lower drilling costs. And this is ultimately part of the reason why we still see low prices at the pumps.
PocketQube Shop wants everybody to be able to put a satellite in space. Instead of having to spend millions of dollars, the owner of the firm, Tom Walkinshaw, says it can be done on the cheap. And by doing it on the cheap, the possibilities are endless. The satellites are only 5 cm-cubed, but Walkinshaw is convinced people will find incredible applications. It’s all down to their imagination. It is hoped that the satellites are finally a way to open space up to the masses.