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Friday, February 28, 2014


3. By the early 2020s we will print out a significant fraction of the products we use including clothing as well as replacement organs.

Kurzweil sees the early 2020s as a “golden era” of 3D printing. — CNN
3D printing is getting a lot of attention. There are niche applications such as printing our replacement parts for machinery, but the opportunity to begin replacing significant portions of manufacturing is still about five years away.
If we look at the life cycle of technologies we see an early period of over-enthusiasm, then a “bust” when disillusionment sets in, followed by the real revolution.
Remember the Internet boom of the 1990s followed by the Internet bust around the year 2000?
That was around the time Google was getting started, and now we have multi-hundred billion dollar Internet companies.
We’re in the early boom phase of 3D printing enthusiasm and hopefully we’ve learned enough to avoid a period of undue disillusionment, but I do see the early 2020s as the golden era of 3D printing.
For example, in the early 2020s, you’ll have a choice of many thousands of cool clothing designs that are open source and that can be printed out for pennies a pound.
But that will not mean the end of the fashion industry. Look at other industries that have already been transformed from physical products to digital ones, such as books, movies and music.
Despite enormous changes in business models (and the availability of many free open source products) the overall revenues for proprietary forms of these products remains strong.
We can already experimentally print out organs by printing a biodegradable scaffolding and then populating it with a patient’s own stem cells, all with a 3D printer.
By the early 2020s, this will reach clinical practice.

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