Forbes 3D Printing Interview with Shapeways CEO Peter Weijmarshausen
Forbes recently sat down with Shapeways CEO Peter Weijmarshausen to talk about 3D printing.
In his remarks, Weijmarshausen compared traditional manufacturing processes to the innovative approach of additive manufacturing, or 3D printing.
3D printing technology was commercially invented in 1989, and had been in use for prototyping for a number of years. So, in that traditional design process, designers might have actually used 3D printers to make product prototypes. But the costs have come down a lot, and the materials these printers can work with have expanded from plastics to materials like stainless steel, silver, ceramics, and glass – with many more coming. And the answer to that original question turned out to be “absolutely yes.” There are an amazing number of real products that can be made directly with this technology. For example, my iPhone case is 3D printed. My cufflinks are 3D printed. Even my coffee cup is 3D printed.
Weijmarshausen also gave his predictions about the future.
In many ways. Think back to what we discussed about how mass manufactured products are made, and I can tell you there are inherent benefits to direct-from-digital manufacturing. First, the time from concept to actual product is condensed from years to a matter of days. We have one user who launched an iPad cover four days after the iPad launched in 2010. He didn’t have any help from Apple – he just bought an iPad in the store and designed a beautiful cover in a few days and then made it commercially available on Shapeways. So, the time to market is compressed immensely. The other key aspect is that the risk of going to market is almost non-existent, because your investment is only the design of the product itself.
The other big thing about 3D printing is the freedom it offers. For almost 100 years, designers have been trained to think within the limits of traditional manufacturing technology. 3D printing allows you to make incredibly complex designs at no additional cost: interlocking components, naturally hinged parts, semi-translucent surfaces, and even objects that can move on their own without assembly (like the strandbeest). You can make things that were not even possible before. And one of the most exciting things for me is to see young designers in schools being directly influenced by the availability of this technology. We will see products emerge that we’ve never imagined before – mind blowing shapes and solutions. I can’t wait to see what will happen in the next five years.
Read the full interview at Forbes.
Peter Weijmarshausen photo by Dave Pinter used under Creative Commons license.