In recent years, information technology has changed the world beyond recognition and it won’t be an overstatement to say that today, there is hardly an industry that is not influenced by them. Companies, such as Google, Facebook, YouTube and Netflix have completely redefined the way we create, store and share information, as well as a variety of other content.
And with the beginning of the so-called “fourth industrial revolution”, technology is about to make a similar change in the physical world around us, affecting real objects, buildings, machines and infrastructure. One of the digital segments that will play an important role in this process is 3D printing, or in other words, the production of objects by overlaying materials layer by layer through a machine called “3D printer.” As we have already mentioned in Economy Magazine, this approach has great potential when it comes to making products in small series or even single pieces.
What Can We Do
That way, we can create a number of items that we need in our everyday life ourselves – from plates, forks, spoons and other household utensils, through jewellery, toys, various home or garden tools, to spare parts and more sophisticated appliances and prototypes for various industries. With some of the more sophisticated 3D printers today, we could create even food products, such as pastry or chocolate, musical instruments, fully functional boats, entire buildings and even... human organs. And even though special and extremely expensive machines are required for them, most household items require just a simple three-dimensional printer, hundreds of them already being available even in Bulgaria.
of 3D printing are huge. It is much more inexpensive for consumers because they receive the respective items right when they need them, and at a much lower price. It is more environmentally friendly because it eliminates the transportation of goods and, moreover, one item is produced exactly when needed, instead of being created in millions of pieces that are stored in warehouses and containers around the world. For businesses, this creates new models of sales, maintenance and reduction of stock.
All of this is wonderful, but it can be done under one condition – if you have the right design models to print the respective 3D products. The reason is that in order to print an object, we must have its three-dimensional model, which should be uploaded as a file to the printer and from which the machine will recreate the real object. This need creates huge opportunities for development of new businesses, which will ensure that availability of sufficient print models. Today, there are sites from which free 3D printing design models can be downloaded. However, with the widespread introduction of this production method, consumers will need more and more diverse and complex models to meet their needs. And this will allow for the emergence of new startups and business models.
New Carrier Opportunities
All this means that there will be an increasing need for 3D design specialists to produce print models. They will be able to work for other companies that need models for their prototypes or products, as well as create their own portfolio of 3D printing designs to sell online.
Development of New Software Products for 3D Modelling
There will also be opportunities for software companies that can create more user-friendly and easy-to-use production tools for 3D models. By now, perhaps the most popular software for this is Autodesk’s Tinkercad. It is free, web based, very easy to use and has many predefined forms and shapes. However, with the wider introduction of 3D printing, there will be a place for even more players. In many technology segments, the big change comes when tools that are easy and accessible to the general public are introduced, such as the open WordPress platform for websites or OpenCart for online stores. So, it is also possible to see new players in 3D printing models.
Online Platforms for Selling and Sharing Models
The most important element of this new ecosystem will be the online marketplace where designers will be able to sell or share it for free with the users. Currently, among the most popular sites are Cults3d.com, Turbosquid.com, Cgtrader.com, etc., but the expectations are that the segment is yet to develop and more marketplace sites are to emerge.
New Opportunities for the Creative Professions
Designers, artists and craftsmen have the opportunity to create unique new works in the form of virtual 3D printing models that have not existed in the real world before. Manufacturers of traditional products will be able to choose to publish some of their items directly as paid models for 3D printing instead of producing and distributing them in the traditional way. Thus, they are now able to position themselves in an industry that will increase its popularity and they will be in a better position when it begins to redefine production. That being said, not every type of production would necessarily be replaced by 3D printing at some pint; the traditional factory model will continue to be more profitable or more suitable for large numbers of products or for certain segments.
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