Over the last couple of months I’ve been working on a semi-secret new project in the 3D printing space, I’ll post more details on that shortly as we get closer to the launch. However I’ll back track a bit to why I’m so excited about 3D printing.
Right now 3D printing is getting a lot of hype, TONS of hype, perhaps more than it needs. However, I think 3D printing is poised to revolutionize manufacturing, just not in the way you are thinking. I don’t see 3D printing eliminating more jobs. I see it creating more jobs. 3D printing is going to usher in a new generation of “makers” who are fabricating things, prototyping things, and building more specialized products than ever before. This will in turn translate to more products on our shelves.
3D printing isn’t going to eliminate factory jobs, because 3D printing isn’t suitable for mass production of anything yet. 3D printing’s sweet spot is in helping people design and manufacture their prototypes at a fraction of the cost and time that it used to. Being able to go from idea to prototype in hours or days instead of weeks or months is HUGE. Having the ability to show a factory the sample of what you want (that you’ve already iterated on) is an incredible time saver. The modern factory will still be cranking out tons of product, they will just need to be more nimble in order to compete and crank out tons of different items.
By reducing the cost of building an initial version, 3D printing could in fact drive demand for mass quantities of product, something that American factories can definitely help facilitate. The future factory workers of america will have to be versed in running more dynamic types of machinery; perhaps the repetitive nature of the factory of yesteryear is gone, but the factories themselves still are very much in demand.
It boils down to the fact that 3D printing is democratizing creation/manufacturing on the small scale and helping people’s ideas come to life. That is why I love 3D printing and am super bullish on it.