You Will Make Your Stuff (Eventually)
In the future, you will make almost anything that you use on a daily basis. Instead of buying and waiting for Amazon Prime’s same-day deliver service to deliver your clothes, furniture, home accessories (like forks or tools), guns, and even food.
In the future, you will have a 3D printer in your closet or living room that is connected to the internet. If you need something, you’ll go to a website where you can find exactly what items you need.
Running low on clothes hangars? Download the file and begin printing.
Need extra spoons because you are having company over? Download the file and begin printing.
Do you like the new shirt design your friend created and shared on Facebook? Download the file, customize to your unique measurements, and begin printing a custom-made and unique t-shirt for you to wear.
Over the past few years, 3D printing has grown in popularity due to the growing companies like Makerbot or Robo (see video above) that are attempting to simplify and sell the first at-home 3D printing machines.
3D printing is an expensive and complicated process that requires specialized skills. 3D printing was largely limited to giant, expensive, and complicated machines that required knowledge in both how to work the machines and how to create the models. Not easy to print out a spoon if you have no idea how to turn the machine on.
3D printing for the average joe still has a long way to go. As of today, it’s still too much of a clunky and expensive process. As with all new technology, until it passess the mom-and-dad test, it’ll still be a few years off from mass adoption.
But, no matter where we are today, there is no doubt in my mind that this will be the future of production.
As 3D printing becomes both cheaper and easier to use, we will see more homes buy and use 3D printers. From a financial and convenicence standpoint, it will make more sense to buy a machine and create everything you need at home. For example, currently, it costs around $2–3 dollars to print an iPhone case.
Historically, as humans, we first hunted and gathered what we needed. We could not produce so we went out and found what we needed. But then the technology existed that allowed us to began clustering together and began trading services and items with others. The next logical step was to begin mass creating things in factories in our local cities. The information age that we currently live in broke down even more barriers as know most of what we buy and consume comes from around the world (Amazon?).
But what will happen when that last barrier falls? What happens when we don’t need to create elsewhere but rather now have the ability to create and produce in our homes?
For example, we buy things online for two reasons: convenience in delivery and unmatched selection. It makes more sense to go onto Amazon where you can browse items regardless of where they are made to find what makes sense for you.
But what if you could have that same selection but, instead of it being made in China and shipped to you, you could just download the file and print it?
And, yes, it will be possible… It’s just a matter of time. Shifts in production due to technology move slowly. This is even more true when it’s consumer-led rather than just on the production side.
The following will need to be true for mass adoption of 3D printing: easier to use machines, more diverse selection of items to print, and cheaper raw materials along with an easier way to refill these materials.
And, here’s the thing, this is all slowly happening. History tends to favor trends of cheaper and faster production, after all.
In the future, you will be able to buy a $5,000 machine to install in your home, go onto a 3D Marketplace (free downloads for generic items, paid downloads for brand items), and subscribe to refillable 3D printing supply services that automatically send you new supplies when you’re running low without you having to do anything.
And we’ve already seen how fast and abrupt changes in industry can be due to technology. Look at what happened in the PC industry when the iPhone hit the market. This shift caused changes not just in the computer-phone industry but in almost every other facet of our lives, as well. Industries like print and radio fell as mobile phones became the primary consuming devices, for example.
But it is now more common to own a $600 phone than to not own a $600 phone.
What will happen when it is more common to own a $5,000 3D printer than to now own a $5,000 3D printer? What will happen when you don’t need to buy brand clothing because you have the ability to print out better fitting and more customized clothing? What will happen when you don’t need to go to a brick-and-motar store to buy your home supplies? What will happen when you don’t need to depend on someone else to make what you need?
Whatever happens will be different than the world we currently live in. And whatever happens… is already happening.