Co.Design Names 3D Printing a Trend

By on December 25th, 2012 in Ideas

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Design blog Co.Design (part of Fast Company) listed Frog Design’s view of the “20 Tech Trends That Will Define 2013”. Such lists are always interesting to examine, as they usually confirm suspicions and indications observed throughout the year.  But what did Frog believe were the trends? 
There are too many to mention, but some we thought particularly provocative were: 
  • We Lose Control Of Our Cars
  • Apps Become Invisible
  • Faces Become Interfaces
  • Sensors, Social Networks Change Health Behavior, On A Large Scale
We’re not going to describe these or the several other fascinating predictions. You can read them yourself at the link below. But we are going to point out two relevant predictions. 
Rip, Mix Burn Gets Physical: Frog Design’s Senior Strategist Annie Hsu suggests that the mashup concept will be taken beyond video, audio and image into the physical world: 
The notion of remixing is on the cusp of entering the realm of physical objects. One key driver is the precipitous decline in prices of 3-D printers. Six years ago, the cheapest machine was $30,000, and today you can find one for $550. A second driver is consumers’ ever-increasing expectations of fast shipping, as currently delivered by Amazon Prime and eBay, priming us for the next generation of instant gratification.
The killer app is going to put the power of ultimate customization in consumers’ hands in 2013, unleashing the new standard for creativity plus utility.
The second relevant trend is Virtual Manufacturing Starts Small:  Frog Design’s AVP of Strategy Patrick Kalaher predicts small-run production will shift into the world of 3D print services such as Shapeways or RedEye Manufacturing: 
While 3-D modeling and 3-D printing have been with us for a while now, this year we’ll see the rise of virtual manufacturing. Services like Shapeways, Ponoko, Sculpteo and i.materialise, which operate as shared factories for hire, will become a common back end for small-scale (10-1,000) unit manufacturing. Think of this as analogous to the hosting of virtual servers in a distributed data center, except in this case, the virtual servers are CNC (Computer Numerically Controlled) manufacturing equipment and the distributed data centers are virtual factories, spread around the world. Amateur as well as professional designers and makers will essentially be able to print objects to specification any time, without having to buy printers and factory space.
Do we agree with these predictions? Duh, what do you think! 

By Kerry Stevenson

Kerry Stevenson, aka "General Fabb" has written over 8,000 stories on 3D printing at Fabbaloo since he launched the venture in 2007, with an intention to promote and grow the incredible technology of 3D printing across the world. So far, it seems to be working!