I have recently been introduced to Kickstarter. We are looking to use it to fund a restoration project I am getting involved with, getting a 1945 Spitfire back in the air.
Browsing through the site today, I came across “The Buccaneer” a 3D printer for all that will retain for less than $400. Furthermore the project from Palo Alto-based Pirate3d seems to have created quite a hit on the crowdfunding site. It launched just 3 days ago and yet it has already surpassed it’s funding goal by 525% raising over $525,000.
With the current focus on 3D printers, realistically priced consumer versions in particular, you can’t deny these guys have been smart with their timing.
Looking at the entry on the site, the company seems to be very consumer-friendly, capable of being set up on desktops or mobile, using the companies “Smart Objects” program to enable users to customise 3D objects without having to master the usual associated design software you would expect.
Could we be looking at another “Industrial Revolution” coming? With countries such as China expecting their 3D market to reach $1.6billion within three years and the US, currently the world-leader in the space, predicting similar growth, I do wonder if countries which rely predominantly on manufacturing could find themselves with no jobs or income.
The possibilities of 3D printing are endless. 3D printers could have the power affect many industries very quickly. Imagine being a car mechanic and not having to wait for the part to turn up and being able to make it on the spot. Even the tools to install parts could be made, which immediately suggests to me the lack of warehousing needed for parts in the future.
With this all comes the question of product and brand protection. Just how quickly this will get reassessed in line with the evolution of 3D printing?
More and more we live in an on-demand world. We want everything today or quicker. Our whole expectation of waiting for something is much the same as when we click search on Google. Instant.
Again, it occurs to me, like the creation of Silicon Valley, that the main area responsible for the evolution and demand of this technology could in fact be the military.
I am sure being able to produce needs in the middle of a battlefield, is far more efficient and safer than asking for supplies to be brought into a warzone.
The US Defense Department has reportedly spent more than $2 million on 3D printers, supplies and upkeep over the past two years. It’s uses range from medical research to weapons development. A $30 million pilot program launched by the Obama Administration includes researching how to use 3D printing to build weapons parts.
One of the most exciting areas for me though, is how 3D printing could influence and change health care. While I think we are a long way away from producing organs to be used for transplants, I am already reading that limbs, implants are being used to help patients and this can only improve. Imagine how many lives would be saved or helped.
So what next, well, my view is that 3d printing is in very early days and has some years to go before it becomes an every day tool for consumers and business.
I also wonder if the scanning technology has to catch up as well. Devices exist today and even a consumer priced version called the Photon. While good to an extent it still has some limitations before I see it being stocked in the retail world.
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