In this article, Jason Stutman talks about the 5 most disruptive technologies of last year and touches on some of the industries that they will disrupt. Some of which we have discussed in class. He lists that Additive Manufacturing, The Automated World, The Internet of Things, Next Generation Interface, and Next Generation Genomics are the five most disruptive technologies. Additive Manufacturing is the process of buiilding three-dimensional objects with machines using CAD software (3D Printing). This is disrupting manufacturing as a whole because it can literally make anything and results in less waste, faster output, and lower operational costs. Automated World is what its title suggests, automation. This technology could disrupt the job market and affect areas such as automated retail, advanced robotics, and artificial intelligence. The Internet of Things is the concept of everyday objects becoming connected to the web. This disruptive technology is directly tied to the automated world. Next Generation Interface refers to the fact that our devices become smaller and smaller that we will need a new means on interaction with them. Lastly, Next Generation Genomics refers to treatment based on genetic sequencing rather than symptoms. All of these are disruptive based on facts sited in the article. What technologies will be considered the most disruptive for 2015?
United Launch Alliance (ULA), who makes rockets for NASA and the Air Force, is planning to 3D print 100 parts for the next-gen model of its Vulcan rocket, which is expected to launch in 2019. Rockets cost about $165 million for ULA, and 3D printers are expected to save as much as $1 million per year in manufacturing costs. Creating these parts in house with 3D printing allows ULA to maintain internal quality control without having to deal with other companies. ULA has previously used 3D printing to make molds and guides, but has not used it to make parts before. Additionally, the company expects to use 3D printing for “rapid prototyping of parts.” This allows engineers to test a part for functionality before having to go through production or deal with a supplier.
Would you expect 3D printing to be adopted in something like rocket manufacturing?
What other manufacturers do you think could benefit from 3D printing parts?
Earlier in the semester when I gave a presentation on 3D printing, I suggested that Consumer 3D Printing won’t be mainstream for another 5-10 years. Well, it looks like it may be here sooner than expected. A team of engineers recently set out to develop a cheap, high-quality consumer 3D printer. With their product, named Tiko, they did just that. Tiko is a 3D printer that is easy to use, non-proprietary, accurate, Wi-Fi enabled, and even comes with its own software to design 3D models on (and be sent right to the printer) — and you can get one for a $179 pledge! This piqued a lot (well, several) peoples’ interest. The group of engineers created a Kickstarter campaign with the goal of raising $100,000 in order to further develop and mass produce the printer. As of now, with 10 days left in the campaign, $2,251,129 has been pledged by 12,663 backers — that is around 178x what they asked for.
As the Kickstarter campaign shows, there is a lot of interest in consumer 3D printing. With Tiko, it looks like it may soon be a reality. I personally think a product like Tiko can make a huge impact, especially in the toy industry. As I mentioned a lot in more presentation earlier in the semester, I think that a company like LEGO should be concerned by the arrival of product like Tiko. If I had one, for example, I could print all of the LEGO pieces that I want, and for much cheaper than buying actual LEGO sets.
What do you guys think, though? Do you guys think this could make a significant impact in the consumer industry, or is it still too early for consumer 3D printing to enter the mainstream market? Let me know what you think!
In this Forbes article, columnist Freddie Dawson discusses the topic of 3D printing and raises questions about how disruptive the technology really is. As Clayton Christenson has stated many times, a core tenet of an innovation being disruptive relies on its price point and accessibility; 3D printing has existed for a while, but it is starting to make headlines nowadays because of its continually decreasing price point (thus, expanding accessibility). The technology is still not cheap and can only make smaller objects using very specific substances (which is why there is controversy surrounding its level of disruption in the near-future), but one cannot deny that there is huge potential for disruption in the long-term future. Optimists in the business world are referring to this inevitable future as the “Consumer Revolution”, a time period in which the 3d printer will become a standard household object enabling the creativity in entrepreneurial individuals to produce almost any object they can think of, of any size and substance.
Questions to consider:
- If owning an affordable and versatile 3d printer is an inevitable reality, how disruptive do you think this will be to the retail, supply chain, and manufacturing sectors?
- Will 3D printing never become that disruptive, only becoming an alternate means of production?
- If users are able to “download” and “print” physical objects that normally would need to be shipped, do you think this could disrupt the online retailing industry and big-name giants such as Amazon?
- Some, including myself, would interpret this as owning the means to production, something that has always been privatized by large corporations in capitalism. With a more communistic foundation behind the technology, will this have adverse affects on capitalism in general?
- Furthermore, with the United States’ reliance on Eastern countries such as China for cheap labor and production, how do you think 3d printing could affect east-west relations and the global economy?