During our recent visit to 3D Systems HQ we were able to walk through one of their production facilities. This is a room containing many large-scale 3D printers, each of which was going about its business printing parts for requestors. The facility was part of 3D Systems' parts-on-demand business.
But we had an interesting thought while staring at the rows of machines. What are they really doing? They're making things. Anything! The machines were capable of printing pretty much whatever is sent to them, so long as the materials matched the object's requirements.
What we were seeing was in fact an "Anything Factory". An array of machines capable of making literally anything. To make something different, no particular re-tooling is required as you might find with a traditional factory. Just load the new design and the Anything Factory will make it.
The 3D Systems staff showing us the facility were proud of their equipment, but we were quite in awe, as we realized we witnessed the dream held by people for centuries: A factory that can make anything, now a reality in the 21st century.
Reminder: Don't forget you can enter to win one of two free admission tickets to the thingmakers conference in London on May 4th. Enter here!