3D Printers.. Closer Than You Think?
from the disruptive-technology-indeed dept
We've written about 3D printers a few times before. Last time, we noted that they were starting to move out of just the "rapid prototyping" space into the instant manufacturing space. Now, Howard Rheingold is predicting that advances in 3D printing are coming along a lot faster than most of us would expect, and they might become quite common much sooner than most people predicted. As Rheingold points out, 3D printers have the potential to be a truly disruptive technology. He points out that they'll let people create new things that weren't possible before. He also touches on the biggest issue I see if such printers become common. How will the world deal with things when we have a "Napster for devices"? Suddenly, even tangible items will be "shareable". All anyone will need is the plans (and the core building materials) and they'll be able to print-on-demand whatever products they want. The impact on so many different businesses would be profound. If you think the entertainment industry is going crazy about file sharing nowadays, just imagine how people will react to a world where manufactured products are just as easily shared and recreated. At the same time, think of the potential benefits, where people could more easily design a product and let others improve on it at will.