It was in 1909 when Henry Ford, master of efficiency and standardization, famously said that a “customer can have a car painted any color…so long as it is black.” While the First Industrial Revolution introduced machines to replace hand labor, Ford helped usher in what was ultimately the principle of mass production; using those machines to produce large quantities of standardized products — an era that came to be known as the Second Industrial Revolution.
Today, more than one hundred years since Ford made his industry-defining statement, 3D printing is making its way forward in the mainstream and is allowing anyone to create customized products on demand at affordable prices. No longer do products need to be the same; we can now tailor products to meet our individual needs at little or no extra cost.
The first time intellectual property attorney John Hornick saw a 3D printer at work, he thought it was a joke. It wasn’t until a friend at Johns Hopkins University convinced him that the tech was the real deal that Hornick took a deep dive into how 3D printing machines could change the world.
Hornick’s findings are collected in the new book, 3D Printing Will Rock the World, and below he tells Inverse exactly how most people may own a 3D printer by 2025, no matter how implausible that seems now.
It was bound to happen of course. When 3D printables files are available online for free and easily shared there was always going to be someone who would be willing to take advantage of that freedom. 3D printing technology is going to completely alter copyrights, trademarks and IP law dramatically over the next few years simply because there really are not a lot of ways to stop people from duplicating, and in some cases stealing and taking credit for, 3D content. Currently there are only two real defenses that 3D model designers have to prevent their work from being stolen; respect for the Creative Common licenses attached to 3D models and the ethical fortitude to not violate those licenses.
HP is at present undergoing the biggest transformation in its history at the end of which it hopes it will have turned technology, and the rest of the world, on its head. The world’s largest startup, as the tech giant likes to call itself, is starting out on a new path of discovery and innovation.
“What we are driving for the next 75 years of HP is towards a vision we called blended reality, melding the physical with the digital, and doing it is a virtuous cycle,” explains Shane Wall, the Chief Technology Officer of HP who also runs HP Labs. In fact, HP Labs is developing the innovations that will go after the five big investments the company is banking on for the future — 3D printing, immersive computing, hyper mobility, IoT and smart machines.
Logistics giant Panalpina and Cardiff Business School at Cardiff University are expanding their research partnership to include new manufacturing technologies such as 3D printing.
The aim is to help Panalpina’s customers identify the right products that could be switched from traditional to new, ‘additive manufacturing’ techniques which include 3D printing.
Nicole Ayiomamitou, lead researcher
The use of 3D printers to create items such as car parts and other higher level goods are expected to increase as hurdles blocking their use are overcome. The current drawbacks include the cost of 3D printers, the speed of print, quality concerns and limited applications.