The Third Industrial Revolution The 3D printing market is expected to grow to 16.2 billion dollars by 2018, revealing an expected compound annual growth rate of 45.7 percent. With the development of desktop 3D printers driving adoption in the consumer market, their use will continue to increase over time. These printers will become a household staple, fostering the next industrial revolution.
The previous Industrial Revolution marked a change in manufacturing. Instead of producing goods by hand, people began using machinery to aid in mass production. While this helped companies turn a significant profit and vastly increased the number of products available, consumers no longer had a say in what their products looked like or how they functioned. Henry Ford summed up the sentiment among manufacturers when he famously said, “Any customer can have a car painted any color that he wants, so long as it is black.” Consumer choices were limited to selecting from what the manufacturers produced, whether it met their specific needs or not.
The Shift In Production
With the advent of 3D printers, consumers now have the power to change the standard mass production model. The previous Industrial Revolution was manufacturer-driven; companies produced what they wanted and sold it to voiceless consumers. The third industrial revolution will be consumer-driven, denoting a shift from mass production to consumer production. It will be more personal, more customizable, and it will effectively break up the monopoly that manufacturers have on the products they make. However, the most exciting feature of this revolution is that it only requires two machines: a computer and a 3D printer. Individuals who participate will find that access to this technology comes at a cost that consumers can access – not limited in accessibility to wealthy companies.
The 3D Printing Vision
Instead of running to the store to buy generic mass-produced items, people will have the ability to produce the goods they want in the comfort of their own homes. The days of waiting for a part from the manufacturer will become a distant memory. When washers or refrigerators break, consumers will be able to download the proper design file and print the necessary part in a matter of minutes. The washing machine could be fixed the same day it breaks, and car repairs that require new parts can be done right in the garage at home.
Fortunately for fashion lovers and designers, the third industrial revolution isn’t just limited to tools and hardware. Women will no longer have to painfully break in their high heeled shoes or deal with the frustration of them slipping off their heels. People with narrow feet will be able to build shoes that fit their foot’s width. The third industrial revolution will enable people to print customized shoes that will virtually eliminate ill-fitting footwear.
Not even the world of jewelry design will be immune from the ripple effects of 3D printing. Particularly as new materials for 3d printing come online, Men will be able to give their wives personalized jewelry that they designed (or downloaded designs for), at a lower cost than buying a generic ring from the jewelry store. With 3D printers, anyone can be both a designer and manufacturer.
Still however, these examples are only a minor sampling of things to come. With increased miniaturization, the development of versatile materials (and multiple print heads), and an eventual ability to print electronics – the potential impact on consumerism is difficulty to fully imagine. To stay on top of the latest developments in the 3D printing industry, check out our regularly updated News Page.