Wednesday, August 31, 2011

What Will People Make When Anyone Can Make Anything?

Today's guest blog is by Scott Harmon, Z Corporation VP of Business Development

You can feel it coming. It has been coming for a while now. Slowly at first. Gathering momentum of late. The power to create.

Once solely the domain of engineers and industrial designers, the power to create is increasingly moving into the hands of everyone else.

The first wave has been driven by the increasing popularity of services like Shapeways and i.materialise, easy to use, fairly priced service bureaus that cater to the creative class. They have leveraged Web 2.0 to create an experience that is part Facebook and part Etsy. Fun to share your creative work, easy to profit as well.

We’ve also seen a lot of interest in ‘The Clones’, that is, the dizzying array of FDM knock-offs whose low price point has captured a great deal of attention. While real numbers are hard to come by, 'The Clones' have strong appeal among the maker class, and have driven 3D printing into a new market.

However, both of these developments are still hampered by the critical bottleneck. Most people can’t make a 3D file. Without mass access to a 3D file creation, there will be no mass market for 3D printing. Bigger markets, to be sure, but not mass markets. The good news is that it’s coming. The technology exists. The websites are being created. The sales channels are developing.

Pretty soon, anyone from your 8 year old son to your 70 year old mother will have the power to create. No training. No cost. No software required. It will be as easy as playing a video game, and less expensive.

That’s a given. The really interesting question is: what will they make? Will they make replacement parts for tools? Will they make art? Will they copy things that already exist?

What would you make if you could make anything on a 3D printer?


  1. As we can see via Shapeways already, they will make everything, innovative, imitative, refined and vulgar, if you can think of it, you can make it and once the 'game engine' 3D modelers hit our screens, it is simply going to explode!!!!

  2. theyll make a radically different world

  3. Loved the article! The technology is truly fascinating, Rapid Prototyping is an incredible service that is definitely changing the way things are done. Thanks again.