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The Personal Factory of the Future

Short description (max. 250 characters)
My idea is to establish small factories with 3D printers in urban areas where everyone can print their own products which then don't have to be shipped half around the globe. Also, the customers can adapt the goods to their needs and taste.

Key benefits (max. 250 characters)
- less transportation costs
- easy adjustment of products to personal requirements
- no overproduction
- less dependency on the vendors by being able to produce spare parts that are no longer sold

Detailed description (max. 500 words)
The rise of affordable and easy to use 3D printers offers new ways to customize goods and reduce waste and transportation.
Currently, a large part of products consumed in the first world countries is mass produced in countries with a lower wage level and transported over thousands of kilometres to the customer. Production gets the cheaper the more identical units are produced and therefore most vendors sell products that will be bought by a large number of customers. The customers have no possibility to get a customized product and have to buy what the vendors sell.

Publicly available 3D printers offer the chance to change this.

3D printers are machines that create physical objects from digital models one at a time by adding small layers of material onto the model. (See [1] for an example process)
There are several technologies that mostly differ in the material they process and the way they add a new layer to the model. The materials range from the PET which is normally used for berverage bottles to Titanium. Since it is an additive approach (unlike milling or turning) only little or no raw material is wasted.

An example for a printer on end user level is the Cube[2]. Costing no more than 1000€ it can be used to print objects up to a volume of (14cm)^3. With this size, many household objects can be printed and there is no physical reason not to build a larger printer.

The main advantage of such a printer is the possibility to adapt objects to the individual user's specific needs or taste. It's especially important in an aging society to take the wishes of the elderly into account who might have problems to open a firmly closed tube due to their limited force or to press the closely spaced buttons on a remote. Even though there are nowadays some solutions, there is still much space for improvement.

My idea is to establish small factories in urban areas where people can either print their own creations or just order an object that is then printed and delivered to their doorstep. For a fee it would also be possible to get the object redesigned to meet specific wishes (a different shape of a coffee mug's handle, a different key layout for the remote).

By this, there is no overproduction since a physical product is only created if a customer is going to buy it and the transportation would be reduced to a minimum.

There are of course some problems which have to be solved:
- What happens if someone wants to print a spare part for his washing machine that is no longer produced but still under patent protection? Do we need a "fair use"-doctrine to handle these cases?
- How do the original creators of the digital models get paid? Or do you only pay for production and customization?

Please check the additional materials for more details.



3d printing, ageing society, factory of the future, individualism

Mobility, Factory of the future


Status: in discussion

196 times viewed

25 Comment(s)

Number: 000068

submitted: 26.06.2012