Don't worry if you've never heard of 3D printing
. It's so new it's not on many radar screens yet.
But soon everyone will know about it.
Still in its very early stages, 3D printing is destined to have a huge impact on the entire world economy.
These "desktop factories" will one day become a $1 trillion industry-completely changing the traditional factory model forever.
It's what's known as a "disruptive technology."
By the end of this decade, everyone from consumers to big businesses to solo inventors will be able to make their own unique products in just a couple of hours.
Need a special tool?... Or a new spare part?
Soon you will be able to fire up the 3D printer and make one from composite materials.
Indeed, I recently watched a YouTube video
of Z Corp.
making an adjustable wrench from high-tech compounds. It was a copy made from metal.
Though it weighed less than the original, the "printed" wrench worked just as well and looked every bit as strong.
And let's not gloss over the medical products that can be created by these revolutionary printers. An 83-year-old woman in Europe
recently received a new jaw doctors printed with titanium powder.
Medical team members
said they made the implant in just a few hours compared with the several days usually required with existing methods.
That's why I say this technology symbolizes the Era of Radical Change. Now, anyone who knows computer basics can make or invent products on the fly.
3D Printing: A New Wave of Innovation
Technically, you don't really "print" a new product, though the process is similar. Rather than putting ink on paper, the system creates the product by adding thin layers of special polymers and some metals.
This is literally "cutting edge" high tech that is destined to become big business.
I believe it is the 21st century equivalent of the laser printer and the dawn of desktop publishing in the 1980s that changed the entire print industry.
But don't take my word for it...
Let's hear from Hewlett-Packard (NYSE: HPQ
the high-tech giant that knows both types of printers extremely well.
The Silicon Valley leader
now offers a high-end unit made for professional use. Its DesignJet Color 3D printer reportedly sells for $20,000.
But consider this: 3D printing will soon come to the masses at prices they can afford.
Today, MakerBot sells its Replicator
for $1,749. Its users can download free modeling software such as TinkerCAD or Sketchup from Google Inc. (NASDAQ: GOOG
) to print their own products.
Small-cap leader 3D Systems (NYSE: DDD
) also recently launched the Cube
, a competing device that lists for $1,299. A related website, Cubify.com, combines the simplicity of a coloring book with robust digital resources.
The firm's CEO,
Abraham N. Reichental, told BBC news
that 3D Systems already has 1,000 workers -- and nearly as many patents.
Now just think of what will happen when the price of these machines drops to $500....
We're talking mass customization
of a wide range of goods, from forks to jewelry to high-tech ski helmets.
When this happens, 3D printing will undoubtedly unleash a whole new wave of innovation.
And for a very simple reason...
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