Are 3D printing and production outsourcing the future?

Submitted by max_L on Thu, 2010-03-11 13:53

With technology improving every day and accomplishing all sorts of tasks, from the simple to the highly scientific and complex, it would seem possible to do almost anything to do. That includes starting up your own business. One technology that is making this even easier if you want to go into producing your own product is 3D printing. There are endless possibilities as to what can be designed and printed on one of these amazing new devices, and they can even be used to modify existing materials. I even saw a video on YouTube where a guy who owns a 3D printer made his own iPhone case.

Unfortunately, these printers cost tens of thousands of dollars, although the price is coming down. But this should not be too much of a cause of concern. With new software provided by a company called Shapeways, you can create your 3D design and send it off to their factory. They will then print this design in one of their 3D printers and send it off to you to package, sell, or use yourself. The video below shows this process in action.

With factories becoming increasingly expensive and start up businesses continually limited to small scales, it seems that this type of production outsourcing may be the future of businesses. In addition to this new business model, the type of remixing that we have seen in the music industry may take place in material markets, with modifications being made on all sorts of designs with 3D printers. This will probably bring a whole new slate of lawsuits, but the benefits of creativity and design advances will surely outweigh the trouble.