3D Printing Is Going to Change Business, Society and the World
Is 3D printing overhyped? Maybe. But 3D printing still has the potential to change enterprises, business and the way we think about everything.At the MakerBot headquarters, a 21st-floor Brooklyn, N.Y., office space with a bird's-eye view of lower Manhattan, journalists were assembled Sept. 20 for a look at the company's newest device, the MakerBot Digitizer Desktop 3D Scanner. The scanner eliminates the need for a user to laboriously create a digital model with which to duplicate something. Taking up roughly the counter space of a toaster, the Digitizer uses two lasers to scan an object and create a watertight digital model in less than 12 minutes. From there, a user can hit "print" or use the model as a starting point. Bre Pettis, MakerBot's exuberant and camera-friendly CEO, likes to say that the Digitizer "jump-starts the creative process." Soon enough, he expects people—toy designers, hobbyists, architects, jet-engine builders—to begin measuring the time saved between idea and finished product. Four years ago, Pettis helped launch Thingiverse, a site where MakerBot users can share inventions and download digital models. ("There were sites for downloading books and music and videos, but what about things?" said Pettis.) Since then, he's created about 100 models. Over the last two weeks, however, with a Digitizer Desktop 3D Scanner on his desk, he'd already created more than 50.
"This is going to change the pace of innovation, because people can iterate faster, they can make mistakes faster, they can throw a version in the trash and move on to the next one," said Pettis. "It really speeds up the process of getting something going."