Problems With The "Next Industrial Revolution"

Mon, 07/01/2013 - 8:25am
Chris Fox, Associate Editor, PD&D

As 3D printing continues to grow, rapidly, the technology teeters on the edge of usefulness and becoming a trendy toy. Though additive manufacturing and rapid prototyping are nothing new, it can’t be denied that it has finally found the limelight.

Now that the public is far more aware of this technology, it might be assumed that people would be running with all sorts of ideas and entrepreneurial endeavors. One would think that technology, or at least some areas of general design, would not only be budding, but exploding onto the scene. We should be a matter of months away from every home printing DIY plumbing, tools, and various apparatuses to make life easier.

Instead, we have websites like Layer By Layer. The site doesn’t sell files or designs, but rather it sells prints. You may ask yourself, “Isn’t that just an online store for novelties?” It isn’t because there is no shipping involved or material exchanged. You hand over money, and the site sends a file directly to your 3D printer.

The company’s intent is to have 3D-printed products delivered to consumers exactly how the designer intended. At the same time, the site totes, “Finally, a way to make money without giving away your designs. Sign up to be a seller, and help build the future of 3D printing.” Basically, they are looking to make 3D printing exactly what The Economist, as well as many others, have called it, The Next Industrial Revolution.

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