Think about it: you can actually print things. Physical, tangible, functional things! Printing is no longer relegated to the 2D past of simply churning out ink blotted sheets of paper! You could make a spatula. A keychain. A car engine. A miniature rocket ship. Really, the future possibilities are endless.
And the market is growing rapidly, with the expectation that it will reach around 5 billion by 2020. May not seem like a lot, but when you consider the typically exponential growth and influence of technology, it seems on a steady, predictable trajectory.
More over, as the market expands, the price of 3D printing is falling. This has the potential to be hugely disruptive not only in obvious areas like large scale manufacturing, but also remote and local businesses; 3D printing could completely and permanently transform the way that buyers and sellers interact in all markets.
Individuals, people who could not previously compete with already established brands with large manufacturing facilities could, in fact, do so. They will be able to print products in their garages in the same way you might a word document.
WHAT DOES THE THE 3D PRINTER FILLED FUTURE LOOK LIKE?
1. NO WASTE!
3D printers are extremely precise. Let us say, for instance, are printing a Christmas tree ornament, and were using aluminium. The printer would ingest the aluminium, and use the necessary amount to make the ornament. An advanced printer could recycle any excess aluminium, melt it down, and use it in the future when called for.
This means no more thrown away scraps. No more wasted money.
2. THEY OPEN THE DOOR TO NEVER BEFORE SEEN CUSTOMIZATION.
The introduction of 3D printing also means that it would be easier to produce individual products for individual consumers. Instead of only being able to afford to produce a million standard toasters, you could, theoretically, produce a million customized toasters. A toaster just for you! And really, who doesn't want that?
3. THEY WILL TOTALLY REFORM MARKETING AND OUTREACH.
Of course, the real advantage to the continued proliferation of 3D printing is that eventually, most consumers will probably have one (this of course presumes that market trends will continue).
This means that companies could design accessories that might complement products consumers already have, and could be printed right at home. Adding on to current products could be tweeted out in promotional campaigns, giving consumers more reason than ever before to pay attention to what you and your business might be doing.
Personally, I find this field incredibly exciting.
The idea of the means of production being in everyones hands is kind of cool. That being said, I have not had a lot of hands on experience actually using a 3D printer; in fact, I have yet to even see one.
Have any of you all used a 3D printer, or have you seen one?
What do you all think about this new tech and the possibilities it creates?