Which companies involved? Marketbot Inudstries. Researchers Washington State University, Cornell University
Which technologies involved? 3D Printing
Kind of innovation: Product, radical innovation
Marketbot has developed a 3D printer for domestic use wherein people can print a selected range of three dimensional items or even design their own made out of plastic, metal and powder from marketbot’s website. The have in place an online community of enthusiastic users which helps in design of different parts to resolve problems for other users of this technology. Interestingly, 3D printers are being used by researchers in universities for increasing efficiency in medicine. A 3D printer (originally used to print metal objects) customised by a team at Washington State University is being used to create a ‘bone like’ material (calcium phosphate mixed with silica and zinc oxide) which acts as a scaffold for new cells to grow and can be used to repair injuries.This technology has been around for a couple of decades but has been and is developing rapidly because of the expiry of its patents a few years ago. It is being used extensively for medical research where now the surgeons have become the lead-users of this technology by experimenting its benefits to medicine. Similarly it is also commonly being used in the automobile and airlines industry to design certain parts. Through mass collaboration techniques with open source in the form of online user communities where the buyers are the lead-users, the 3D printing technology can potentially penetrate most industries. The price for portable printers for common use is at $1100 dollars which in the years to come can drop significantly due to competition. Since it allows the common man to produce (print) items that he/she can design to match their preference it threatens to end mass production by bypassing an enormous chunk of the value added supply chain. 3D printing is being used in new and original ways by different industries. However, it remains to be seen what impact it will have on home users if at all.