Changing Face of Manufacturing
I wrote last week that the future of web service is mobile. And as many trends are showing, this mobile future is quickly approaching.
As mobile developers quickly flesh out the application space with newer and more distinguished products, it’s interesting to keep an eye on what is happening also in the manufacturing industry.
I can hear you scoff from across the screen – “What does Manufacturing have to do with current trends in information technology” you ask? Well, check out this Wired video – Atoms are the new Bites -
Just as anyone can create a mobile app, so too can anyone create STUFF.
Behold! The power of democratizing manufacturing!
I did an analysis of 3D printer manufacturing firm MakerBot Industries (whose product is shown here), a small open source start up from Brooklyn, and gave my opinion on how the company fits within the industry (both manufacturing as a whole, as well as the 3D printing industry subset). 3D printing is definitively bringing manufacturing to the masses and is progressively changing the trajectories of both traditional manufacturing and 3D printing industries simultanously.
There are three big implications that 3D printing has for traditional manufacturing. The first is speed to market: the faster a product can get to market, the quicker revenue is created and the more customer demand will be satiated. Second, because firms can test ideas first before scaling up and incorporate direct feedback from buyers before going to market, the risk of going to market falls nearly to zero. Lastly, the disruptive potential of producing things too intricate to be machined makes 3D printing an option that requires less material, less specific advanced skill level, and more useful to a larger number of peripheral industries.
In general, 3D printing will not be used by “everyone to make anything” but rather be used by some to make the things they care about most. While this path will slow down mass production and give options to overseas manufacturers, it still remains a number of years in the future to see what the long lasting impact will be on traditional manufacturing. The ultimate goal of 3D printing and digital manufacturing is to enable the manufacturing of ideas, where 3D printing tools could anticipate on and respond to demand for any type of specific goods. Emerging and established industries and nations alike can reap the benefit of having control over the design, utility, process, and end result of tangible objects. But because this industry is still in an emerging stage of the industry lifecycle, and boundaries are still fluctuating, the extent to which 3D printing converges, coexists, or fails has yet to be seen.
What do you think about the lifecycle of 3D printing?
Check out my presentation about my analysis of MakerBot here: