|3D Printing Revolutions|
I'm half way through reading Chris Anderson's 'The New Industrial Revolution' and enjoying it as much as I did The Long Tail. I'm feeling a real sense of Déjà vu though, taking me back to the 80's desktop publishing and 90's pre bubble internet revolutions. Graphic designers like me were unnerved back then by the greater access to our profession. Anyone could in theory design their own newsletters, posters, letterheads etc. Pagemaker and the Mac gave them the means to create their own brand collateral and then suddenly we were all designers. The word 'Design' was adopted by hairdressers and caterers alike.
Chris Anderson suggests 3D printers will allow us all to become inventors in much the same way but it's not access to technology that makes a manufacturer or entrepreneur. The DTP revolution broke down boundaries between designers, typesetters and artworkers which lead to more freedom and the pushed boundaries through a great deal of trial and error. It opened up the industry but those that took greatest advantage were in related disciplines. The HTML gurus I knew in 94 who helped me code our first websites worked in IT support and technical customer support at VideoLogic, pioneers of multimedia hardware where I was a senior designer. I needed technical help to produce a professional corporate website just as inventors and their 3D printers need professional help to take the next step towards manufacture.
So these design revolutions showed me the need to have well edited, professionally produced content, whether it's a webpage, a catalogue, an App or a witty Wifi controlled home appliance. These revolutions democratise 'access' to new technologies but the early adopters probably haven't travelled very far, professionally speaking. It will be very interesting when the technology reaches the WYSIWYG stage and consumers start to play.
At Meso our two kickstarter successes were products conceived by expansive thinking individuals working in digital agencies, extending their skillsets into Product Design with Arduino electronic prototyping and access to 3D printing. After proving their concepts they knew what professional product design and engineering delivers and came to Meso. They'd proved that they could do it, they now needed it faster, stronger and cheaper.