In my last posting ("Last Week I Visited the Future... and its in 3D")I wrote about my trip to Shapeways, a company that is on the cutting edge of consumerist 3D printing. Shapeways is not the only company in the business. If you want to check out some toy specific 3D sites, you may want to visit My Robot Nation where you can design and have 3D printed your very own robot. Also, check out Makie Lab, a British company which focuses on allowing users to design and 3D print toys and games.
Thanks to Shapeways, I learned about how big the 3D printing market has become and the number of materials there are available with which to work. But what does it all mean? Is it important?
I think it means a lot. Here are some things to think about:
- If you own enough 3D printers, why would you need to own any inventory? You could print out on demand. It’s JIT (Just in Time) in its truest sense.
- If you can print out small batches without the need for molds or factories? Anyone can enter the marketplace with a new item. The only cost is for the material.
- If the need for factories and engineers declines, what happens to people who currently hold those jobs?
3D printing is still a work in progress but those who I speak with tell me that we are nearing a tipping point. When 3D printing truly comes into its own, it has the power to disrupt industry and society.