I’m reading an ebook called “Make: Getting started with 3D Printing” (Second Edition, by Liza Wallach Kloski and Nick Kloski) as part of my learning about 3D printers ahead of buying one later this year.
The foreword served as a general introduction (Reading “Make: Getting started with 3D Printing” (foreword)), so I was a little surprised that Chapter 1 had the same title. It is, however, an incredibly short chapter that wants to argue that 3D printing is the corner store of a third industrial revolution after steam-powered machines and assembly lines. The obvious benefits are that 3D printers are incredibly amenable to having scalable workforces (start small, and build…literally) as you produce one unit, multiple units or in large quantities and with the opportunity for customization that traditional assembly lines can’t accommodate. It also might work well with the recent push for “work anywhere” i.e., no location restrictions on where the “factory” has to be in order to run. The book was written before the current big pushes, but there are some obvious synergies.
Personally, I’m not sold on viewing it as a third revolution, although it would be a part of it. For me, it is the digital world that is the third revolution, the move to digital products and away from physical ones, or the multi-faceted nature of the modern “factory”.
What I do like however is a really great quote:
…3D printing gives power to the individual. Essentially, it is a factory on your desk; you can model an idea and 3D print the object the same day. You can manifest your concepts into a physical form which was only once available through expensive, exclusive, and time-consuming industrial prototyping. You don’t need permission from a board of directors, or even orders from customers, to produce new products. You just need your imagination and a pool of plastic.(p.4)
An interesting thought, and it is entirely true. It is ideal for the startup or small-scale entrepreneur. Will it generate a “revolution”? I think not.