What if you have a machine that could create any car?

You would become like the Napster of the automobile industry and face similar consequences. Although the question is hypothetical, advances in 3d printing & 3d scanning technologies could make this scenario closer to reality than we think.

50 years ago, no one could have thought music copying and text printing could become so easy that those industries would change so completely. A 5 year old could set up a music studio or text printing that would have been unimaginable a few decades ago and thought could be done only in large enterprise.

In theory, you could create a detailed 3d model of your desired car with a 3d scanner and then just print it. We can already create 3d models of small objects with hand-held sensors and it’s just a matter of time before more complex, precise, large objects can be scanned — like say the Lamborghini engines.

Once the model is there, they can be printed. There are already 3d printed cars. Look at a super car 3d printed.

But, then comes the serious questions:

  1. Can you produce it cheaper, with sufficient volumes and very high quality? Lamborghini has built a variety of processes that will make theirs cheaper for a specific quality. Even acquiring some of the specific raw materials might not be easy.
  2. What about licenses & copyrights? You can now scan a book in PDF and then print it at home. Does that allow you to copy things at will and sell somebody else’s work legally? Just like in the text world, there will be legal challenges in IP protection that will come in your way. Auto companies would just get a legal injunction and shut your company down if you copy their design.
  3. The distribution and operational infrastructure. Getting the car legal for the road would require a lot of resources. Then comes the advertising, marketing and distribution challenges. Just because you can make a really good tasting cola out of your soda maker doesn’t make you a Coca Cola.