In the design world, prototyping is essential.
Designers are encouraged to ‘get physical’ as early as possible to gain a better understanding of form and function for themselves and others. From basic card models to rapid prototyped 3d models, the concept evolution stage of design is faster than ever before. Rapid prototyping machines are not ‘new’ and there expense and size have limited their use to industrial applications. But we are starting to see their use change, and it has the potential to change the world (a bold statement indeed).
In the not to distant future, we will all have a 3d printer at home. Consumers will not buy physical products, but their digital geometries and use that data to ‘manufacture’ parts at home on your shiny 3d printer. The ability customise products to exactly what you want will be in your hands, quite literally. The digital age will take that next step and its not as far away as you might think. And now a quote from Vik Olliver of RepRap:
“It’s at the stage where it’s still a rich white guys thing.”
“It will reach a point where it will just flow over the dam, as it were. Once the rich white guys have their toys, everyone will think: ‘what about the poor buggers in the third world?’.”
My mind is racing at the possibilities of ‘home manufacture’ and how is will put design into the hands of people who need it most, everyone!