It’s amazing stuff, straight out of Sci Fi. You can purchase a 3D printer that, given a set of schematics, can build things for you, one layer at a time. Want a new coffee cup? Sure, you can do that. Want a small plastic engine? Sure, come on down. Want to build a mechanical device with no entry points that is impossible to build using current fabrication technology? Okay, that’s not100% here, but it’s coming, and soon.
And not only is 3D printing in the here and now, it’s in your home (or can be). You can purchase your own 3D printers, or build them using free and open source instructions (e.g., Fab2Home), in your spare bedroom. That’s a game changer. In 10 years, are we going to shift from mass producing in a huge factory five million identical parts per day that everybody mostly likes or five thousand tailored parts that the target audience adores but in a garage instead of a factory?
The “real world” is aligning with the digital world in a hurry. Keep up.
In my line of business, information technology, I see this trend accelerating even faster. Every year–really, every month–a new technology comes out that begins to heavily push against a service or product that we service. This forces my IT company to constantly adjust, redefine, and clarify our mission. It’s a good thing. It makes us stronger and more closely aligned with customer needs rather than vendor promotions and margins.
Are you in an industry that is beginning or already competing against game changers? If so, how are you (re) defining your company’s mission to align with the times? If you aren’t, you won’t be around for long.