Matthew du Plessis on 3D Printing

Matthew du Plessis, columnist at the Times Live, provided his thoughts on the world of 3D printing. While he begins with the obligatory comparison to Star Trek replicators (“Tea, Earl Grey, Hot!“), he then recognizes the potential of the future: 
… I think it’s fair to say, without any hyperbole or undue exaggeration, that recent, current and ongoing developments in manufacturing spell the doom and imminent demise of the entire manufacturing industry.
Or, if you insist that’s a step too far, then concede at least that it’s the end for the business models involved in creating, marketing, distributing and selling physical products. Because, you see, in what might be the biggest game-changer in the industry since Henry Ford switched on the assembly line, the manufacturing process is moving out of the factory and into the home.
We think we’re not as close to this point as du Plessis suggests, but we’re on our way there. Printers continually improve in performance, quality and price; print services attempt innovative approaches; vast libraries of 3D models grow; and software design tools become easier to use. Perhaps in five to ten years we’ll begin to see significant changes in business models, but it begins with awareness. 
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