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What We Do Know About the Future of 3D Printing

July 3, 2013, 11:27 AM

In terms of 3D printing I think we are going to see quite a few interesting changes in professions and jobs and where people add value.  It's a little bit difficult to try to predict that.  It's a bit like trying to sit here in the ‘70s discussing how computers are going to change the world.  There are things you can predict pretty easily.  You could predict that computers are going to allow you to do payroll calculations faster.  And do military calculations but it was impossible to predict the Internet or social networking and so forth.  So it’s a little bit like that, trying to see how professions, how the economy’s going to be disrupted by this kind of technology.

But there are certain things that are clear that are going to happen.  So first, the fact that you can make things on demand where and where they’re needed is going to change our dependency on things being produced in remote factories and shipped halfway across the planet.  So there’s going to be I think a substantial disruption to things like transportation of goods and allow things to be much more agile to supply chains and distribution networks.  And that’s a huge part of the economy revolves around that. 

So I think we’ll see a lot of that and we’ll also see a growth in things that are customized.  Right now we are used to consuming products that are mass-produced and often aimed at the common denominator.  But that may change.  So with that in mind I think there’s going to be much more, much stronger emphasis on kind of creative work, on generating content.  Rather than distribution and manufacturing of products because that part is going to be increasingly automated. 

In Their Own Words is recorded in Big Think's studio.

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What We Do Know About the F...

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