Last week in the Covestro Booth at the K-Fair I had the chance to watch a presentation of Autodesk.
It was about Additive Manufacturing (=3D Printing) and bringing Software, Hardware and Material together.
Catalogs of materials with all its properties and specifications would be included in the design tool and help designers to choose the right material. Autodesk sees a $B market not only in fancy designs but especially in parts like sealings for cars (in the first step).
3D-Printers will be able to scale for industrial manufacturing at appropriate volumes and costs. With Additive Manufacturing no dies or tools as in traditional machines are needed upfront.
They mentioned a light-weight tool (Tinkercad from Autodesk) that can be used to create (not only) simple Objects in the Browser.
When done you can send the result directly to one of many 3D-printing providers with a few clicks. You can choose the material and order it. It will be printed within days or even hours.
You can also download the model and print it yourself!
Out of curiosity I created and ordered a small object of about 5x5x5cm that in the meantime was made of ABS for a few Euros. If have to admit: in this I am a member of the late majority.
With tools like this it is easy to create 3D-Objects and Prints without any expert knowledge and any special equipment.
Why not print spare parts for your household appliances? Some simply shaped ones in my car and my kitchen appliances, I had to replace recently, come to my mind.
I remember once having to replace „almost“ a complete car door, because a broken plastics part in the electrical window regulator was not separately available for order 🙂
With a 3D capture app (like the coming Windows Capture 3D) the last hurdle of having to create a model first will disappear.
Where will it lead us to when people start to print their own parts and exchange self-made models that are good enough for a certain purpose? Will the material get as expensive as ink cartridges for paper printers are now? Will there be charge on it like there is for rewritable storage media?
Will business models based on the short life-cycle of products or their parts disappear?
We will see. At least I have got a nice and solid Pencil Holder on my desk now.