So when my five-year old wanted a kitchen set, we got her the latest ‘Hello Kitty’ kitchen set. It comes with a set of miniature saucepans, plates and spoons and yeah, all was great. It kept her busy for a few days, but soon she wanted some more additions to her kitchen set. Hmm, wish I had a 3D printer…… Let us imagine I did indeed have one, then the story would go like this:
Ok, yes, 3D printers are not mainstream yet, so I might not be able to print it at home. There are a number of factories that are offering 3D printing as a service. So all I need is my design and a credit card. I go to Shapeways, a 3-D printing service and choose to print my design.
So in essence, what I have done above?
- Using a prototyping tool, created the design for a product that I needed
- By the click of a button, manufactured the product
- And also I shared my design on the web, this allows someone else to download it, change it, provide feedback on it i.e. collaboration
- The ‘network effects’ – When you have an idea and put it out there, people with the same passion connect with it and the idea just grows. It doesn’t just grow, it grows at a massive scale and rapidly. You idea gets validated, tested and you get feedback at no cost.
‘An R&D model that’s faster, better and cheaper than those of some of the biggest companies in the world.’
- There is something special about the people involved, they all care deeply about the product they are making. They are involved in something that they want for themselves and this matters. People are working together, sharing their designs and collaborating with others, all for free.
‘Their excitement in making is infectious, and builds excitement and anticipation for the products they ultimately release.’
- It is now possible to rapidly prototype in the manufacturing space. The manufacturing industry has always worked on a large-batch production process. Moreover the equipment is expensive and this meant that anyone involved in developing a physical product was at a disadvantage and at the mercy of a large company to create the end product. The advent of 3D printing and rapid prototyping tools is game changing.
‘That’s the power of democratization: it puts tools in the hands of those who know best how to use them. We all have our own needs, our own expertise, our own ideas.’