Will 3D printing be the next game changer?

What is going to emerge as the next major game changer after social media, eBooks and tablets?

Which new product or technology is going to disrupt the established order in an important category?

Something that has as big an effect as eBooks are having on publishing houses or tablets on computers.

A strong contender has to be 3D printing.

Here is a short video on how 3D printing produces intricate products with moving parts and different colours in a composite material.

httpv://youtu.be/jQ-aWFYT_SU

There are other 3D printers that can produce metal objects by binding metal powder in layers to build up the finished object which is then hardened or combined with other metals in a separate process.

The technology is still too expensive for widespread adoption, but prices have already started moving down the experience curve. Basic 3D printers in kit form are available for less than $2000, but serious models start at $20 000.

A promising area is for the production of replacement bone for surgical repairs, an 83-year-old Belgian woman recently had her lower jaw bone replaced with a titanium one produced by 3D Printing technology. Here is the link to the full story with a photograph on PCmag.com

The possibilities are endless, when prices have come down to be affordable for household use, we could be printing out new dinner plates when we get tired of the old ones, extra chairs for unexpected guests. A new lamp lens or rear view mirror to repair an accident damaged car.

Wild speculation aside, 3D printing really could be the next big game changer.

Will it bring back some of the jobs we have lost to developing countries with cheap labour?

Will it drastically alter the manufacture of small items so that we might complete the production of some consumer products at home, customised to suit our specific needs?

How will this and other game changers affect your business and your customers?

What do you think, will this be a major game changer? What else will be? leave a comment.

Wishing you success in interesting times ahead.

Peter Wright

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  4 comments for “Will 3D printing be the next game changer?

  1. Darren Sanford
    March 8, 2012 at 10:32 pm

    WOW! How awesome is this. I’m think The Jetsons are becoming closer neighbors. Thanks for sharing this interesting article and video.

  2. March 8, 2012 at 11:22 pm

    Have you noticed that everything Star Trek used as si-fi is coming true in our day? It is amazing. You can’t do what we are doing. But what about the pain relief of this being a paperless society? I guess it just depends on what you mean by paperless now.

  3. March 9, 2012 at 7:29 am

    Thanks Peter for adding this very innovative technology to your blog for discussion.
    Having worked with business equipment for most of my career starting in 1980, first with black and white copiers, I have seen first hand the natural progression in business equipment from single color and analog to multi-color and digital. This 3D technology produces a new paradigm for the business world to find the best applications for it. Right now I see its application in niche markets such as a company producing scaled down models of new products in house for display at trade shows or not outsourcing model product machining.
    While watching the video I was reminded of “Star Trek,” where they would order food and it would materialize inside a machine.
    I have seen first hand how copiers totally negated the business need for carbon paper and typewriters and how computers and printers have evolved into networked multi-function machines.
    So right now this is not a game changer –yet. But like any new developing technology–imagine the possibilities. Now I bid adeiu to imagine.

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