Makin’ machines with machines!
Metalworking is one of the oldest professions of civilized society. In the olden days, we didn’t have machines or anything; if we wanted metal stuff, we had to melt it down and shape it ourselves. That’s why blacksmiths are always big, burly dudes in fantasy fiction, because they were the only ones tough enough to pound metal. Metalworking is still around today, but the demand for metallic products has long since outstripped the work capacity of a few dudes with hammers. It’s for this reason that robotic blacksmithing is such an interesting prospect.
Robotic blacksmithing, or “metamorphic manufacturing” if you prefer, is the next step in the mass-manufacturing sector. A lump of raw material, usually plasticine, can be mounted on a machine, and robotic arms can selectively heat it with lasers and sculpt it with plates. This process grants a much greater degree of control over the shaping process; instead of heating up the entire lump and quickly working it before it gets cold, the machine can take its time shaping it to the perfect dimensions for whatever it needs to be. All sorts of complex shapes could be created, which could lead to much more complex and intricate parts for bigger and better machinery.
Robotic blacksmithing is still in its theoretical stages, and will need some more fine-tuning before it’s commercially viable. If they can make this happen, though, it could very well be the start of the next chapter in technological history.