Tag Archives: The Economist

IBM Sees Exponential Growth of 3D Printing Industry

Paul Brody IBM 3D Printing

More than just a tool, 3D printing is an emerging ecosystem.
– Paul Brody, IBM on the exponential growth of the 3D printing industry

At the Siemens Global Innovation Summit in Phoenix, IBM’s Paul Brody gave a look at how manufacturing transformation is changing the traditional rules of product design and development.

Brody highlighted 3 technologies: 3D printing, intelligent robotics, and open-source engineering.

On 3D printing, he discussed key trends:

  • 3D printing is rapidly achieving levels of performance required to be production-ready
  • 3D printing is already used in production for medical devices and aerospace
  • Performance is improving year on year
  • At lower volumes, unit costs are competitive with machining and plastic injection molding

He also dove into trends on open-source and crowdsourcing, asserting that 80% of consumers told IBM they are willing to help enterprises develop their products. Brody claimed, “Accept their help or see them build your competition on Kickstarter.”

IBM had partnered with The Economist to analyze the growth rate of open-source design repositories, namely Thingiverse, and found that the number of 3D printable items is on an exponential upwards path while complexity as measured by number of parts is on a steady increase.

IBM 3D Printing Exponential Growth

Paul Brody’s full talk is embedded below and more research from IBM is available here.

3D Printing Will Be As Disruptive As the PC, Thanks to Piracy

3D Printing Piracy

The Economist published a feature on the intellectual property implications of 3D printing. Remember Napster and shareware? 3D printing will be as disruptive as the PC.

The machines, called 3D printers, have existed in industry for years. But at a cost of $100,000 to $1m, few individuals could ever afford one. Fortunately, like everything digital, their price has fallen. So much so, industrial 3D printers can now be had for $15,000, and home versions for little more than $1,000 (or half that in kit form). “In many ways, today’s 3D printing community resembles the personal computing community of the early 1990s,” says Michael Weinberg, a staff lawyer at Public Knowledge, an advocacy group in Washington, DC.

This disruption will require a change in business model. The question is whether manufacturers will adapt.

Manufacturers are likely to behave much like the record industry did when its own business model—based on selling pricey CD albums that few music fans wanted instead of cheap single tracks they craved—came under attack from file-swapping technology and MP3 software. The manufacturers’ most likely recourse will be to embrace copyright, rather than patent, law, because many of their patents will have expired. Patents apply for only 20 years while copyright continues for 70 years after the creator’s death.

Will regulation create obstacles to innovation?

Today’s 3D printing crowd—tucked away in garages, basements, small workshops and university labs—needs to keep a keen eye on such policy debates as they grow. “There will be a time when impacted legacy industries [will] demand some sort of DMCA for 3D printing,” says Mr Weinberg. If the tinkerers wait until that day, it will be too late.


Read the full feature at The Economist.

Piracy photo by robotson used under Creative Commons license.

Top 10 Countdown: Most Popular 3D Printing Stories in April

Forbidden City Relics 3D Printing

Here are the top 10 most popular stories On 3D Printing brought you in April 2012.

10. We explored innovative and strange 3D printing concepts, from chocolate to stone to candy to organs!

9. Former MakerBot COO is launching a new 3D printer called Solidoodle, with a $500 price tag.

8. The Forbidden City is cloned with 3D printing (photo above).

7. Hollywood’s storytellers turn to 3D printing, including Iron Man.

6. The lucrative toy industry is challenged by 3D printed generics.

5. The Economist publishes a special report on 3D printing, called “The Third Industrial Revolution“.

4. Google sold 3D modeling software SketchUp to Trimble.

3. We analyzed the market size of 3D printing creators and consumers.

2. Stratasys merged with Objet, and we captured the key deal points.

1. Leapfrog launches a new 3D printer line in Europe.


Thanks for reading in April!

Top 3D Printing Headlines from Last Week: $1.4 Billion Merger, The Economist, GWiz Fab Lab, 3D Design Software

A roundup of the top news On 3D Printing brought you from April 16 to April 22.

Monday, April 16

Tuesday, April 17

Wednesday, April 18

Thursday, April 19

Friday, April 20

The Third Industrial Revolution – The Economist Publishes a Special Report on 3D Printing


The Economist has published an in-depth special report on 3D printing and the macro-economic impact this technology will have on our global supply chain. The introduction of this report reads:

The first industrial revolution began in Britain in the late 18th century, with the mechanisation of the textile industry. Tasks previously done laboriously by hand in hundreds of weavers’ cottages were brought together in a single cotton mill, and the factory was born. The second industrial revolution came in the early 20th century, when Henry Ford mastered the moving assembly line and ushered in the age of mass production. The first two industrial revolutions made people richer and more urban. Now a third revolution is under way. Manufacturing is going digital. As this week’s special report argues, this could change not just business, but much else besides.

The report features include:

Be sure to read all of this great analysis by The Economist.