Industrial Revolution 3.0 & Future of 3D Printing

What is the future of manufacturing, design, and creativity? How are 3D printing and the maker movement shifting the global economy?

Mike Senese, Senior Editor at Wired, and Peter Weijmarshausen, CEO and Co-Founder of 3D printing marketplace Shapeways, will discuss how 3D printing is revolutionizing manufacturing and democratizing creation for everyone.

Sharing their perspectives from the front lines, Mike and Peter will outline the key trends of Industrial Revolution 3.0: collaborative design, open access, creative commerce, green production, and a DIY ethos. They will discuss the limitations of mass manufacturing and explain why digital fabrication enables individuals to find and make products that truly meet their unique needs.

What open source did for software, 3D printing can do for physical things. Turning bits into atoms has never been easier.

Shapeways, 3D printing

Is 3D printing a game changer?

Mass manufacturing is effective at making complex products. We as the end user have no input in the process (beyond either buying or not buying a product).

How can we make products that we all care about that are truly unique.

Industrial Revolution 3.0

  • The first big need - enable people to have input.
  • The risk of mass manufacturing is that people may not embrace the product or the product may be faulty and you are left with a surplus of product.
  • 3D printers allow products to go through very quick innovations / iterations based on customer feedback.
  • Comparable to the transition from buying software at a store versus downloading software. If you are a software developer, then you can become an entrepreneur simply by setting up a web shop.
  • 3D printing enables you to start a manufacturing company with very little resources.

The 3D printing revolution mirrors the digital revolution in music. The question is, how are big brands going to take advantage of this revolution.

We will likely see some of the companies that are more agile take advantage of the opportunity. For example, Nike, can do customized 3D printing of soles to fit your specific foot.

On demand product generation.

  • Spare car parts, instead of having a large (20 year) inventory of parts, car parts could be printed on-demand.
  • Nokia Lumia 520, decided to release the print files for the case with a creative commons license with the ability to modify and print for free.
  • Teenage Engineering, allows customers to print replacement knobs.
  • This is a starting point. Who is the next big company that will take advantage of this?

When disruptive technologies come, big companies are often slow to adopt.

How will product design change with the new capabilities?

We’re going to see things change in a couple different ways. Rapid manufacturing tools allow people to do things faster and cheaper than in traditional manufacturing. We are also going to see complexities that are impossible to manufacture within traditional tooling.

Why is this happening now?

  • Infrastructure (bandwidth) has become more robust
  • Printers are becoming more mature - more reliable output
  • The price of CAD software has decreased (free) and become more approachable / usable. 123D App.
  • Internet allows sharing worldwide.

Production and manufacturing can become local again.

If you want to make products that push the envelope, you need to be close to the tools / machines. You need to intimately understand how the tools work. It’s harder when the machines are half a world away.

3D printing hub in Ohio to be used as a brainstorming location and also work out designs and do the printing themselves (mentioned in the State of the Union).

There’s still a lot that has to happen. Will everyone use 3D printing?

  • We may be using it without knowing it. Parts of the Boeing 787 Dreamliner are 3D printed.
  • We may be talking about the solutions created by 3D printing, without even knowing it. For example, 3D printed engine could be more efficient if printed instead of built from a solid block of metal and drilled out.
  • 3D printed dress. Print clothing? Why not? Currently, clothing is in a compromise. Mass produced clothing is limited to certain sizes. 3D printing would allow clothing to be designed to fit perfectly and could be customized based on taste.

What types of developments are going to happen?

  • Printing in metal - silver, stainless steel
  • Printing multiple materials - a flexible material and a strong material
  • Ability to print an entire gadget - all the way from case to electronics


William Hertling’s notes from the talk

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  • G. Brad Hopkins
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