We will witness the birth of a new generation of “makers.” When I got my MBA, my instinct was to stay away from manufacturing. Who needs the hassle? Labor problems? Environmental Protection Agency? Boats of raw materials that never get to me? Forget it. Marketing. Finance. That’s the place to be. Ahhh. Paper shuffling for big dollars… that’s where the smart MBAs go. Now a new generation of smart, young “makers” are entering the workforce and a new breed of entrepreneurs is arriving.
Brand interaction. I can interact with the eyeglass company’s website and make my glasses the way I want them. The company can handle the printing. The eyeglass firm can still use Ecommerce and overnight shipping. But the consumer can augment and customize.
Controversy. When jobs disappear, people get upset. When you can 3D Print Guns,people get scared. When you can print body parts (known as bioprinting) people get uneasy. When a 12-year-old can scan and copy a product, people get suspicious.
Convenience. “I want it now.” OK.
Better customer service. Anyone trying to sell me something “standard” or “off the shelf” had better differentiate herself with something like lower prices, more convenience, and be willing to carry my bags of parts to my car. (Maybe they have to carry the bags to my house).
Cheaper. The machines will get cheaper. The materials will get cheaper. The websites featuring the industry will charge lower prices. The products that aren’t 3D-printed will get cheaper.
Faster. The machines will get more and more advanced. They will print with greater speed.
More variety. Unless I’m wrong and everything goes back to communist grey, everyone will have more choices of their printed materials.
Complex is free. When you Google pictures of 3D printing, you see these mosaic designs and intricate plastic pieces. It takes just as much effort to print those designs as a single slab of plastic – that is, none. Who needs complicated mosaic see-through plastic pieces anyway? How about recipients of a medical implant? When body tissue can grow inside the holes of one of these implants, the body is less likely to reject it.
So, how do we 3D print money from this information? Pick the trends that your firm can embrace. Improve customer service. Focus on a consultative approach with your existing customers. Realize the competition is there, whether you outsource to do it or not. Don’t buy too many machines, because the price keeps going down.