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By John Patkin
Sometime around 2005, I told a friend our lives would be a 10kg bucket of plastic that could be moulded into whatever you wanted instantaneously. We’re not far from that in 2017. For the past year or so, 3D printers have been sold as plug-and-play desktop devices and at around US$200 are about the same price as a laser (paper) printer. Filament instead of ink is bought by the kilogramme and is extruded in a variety of colours from the bottom up to produce designs that have been downloaded from 3D communities or modelled using free software. One thing I got wrong was that we needed to travel with the bucket. We don’t. We print on site.
3D printers are scary because they can upcycle themselves. Although the current speed of desktop 3D printers is biblical (i.e. slow), they are providing us with a window to the future. Once we acquire a 3D printer, we will be able to print a better one. We will be able to print everything we need and want using material buried in landfills and solar power. That’s where the security issue comes in – with such self-sufficiency fossil fuel will remain in the ground, people will work from home if they have jobs, and there will be little to buy at “the mall.”
I’m inspired by many writers and books, but recommend these two if you are interested in disruption:
The Great Fragmentation: And Why the Future of Business is Small by Steve Sammartino
The Zero Marginal Cost Society: The Internet of Things, the Collaborative Commons, and the Eclipse of Capitalism by Jeremy Rifkin
Looking to the future, we face the challenge of working within our current matrix to sustain the current machine but should be mindful of development that may be the tipping point of disruption.