Every once in a while we see a new market created. 3D Printing is one of those markets. We are still very early in the lifecycle, but there are so many brand name companies and exciting ideas around you just have to take a serious look.
We’ve all heard about 3D printing, but most of us don’t really have a good understanding what this new industry is all about and how it will grow and impact the world. However when Meg Whitman CEO of Hewlett-Packard (HPQ) talks about 3D printing on CNBC as a potential growth industry they are focusing on, we’d be foolish not to listen.
3D printing is moving from talk to prototype and now it’s start toward actual production. This is where the rubber meets the road. The 3D market is rapidly growing and is expected to reach more than $10 billion over the next decade. That’s a huge growth opportunity.
3D printing has a lot of different meanings. It will make or print actual, very complicated parts for a variety of business and industries around the world. This will impact every industry from wireless to telecommunications and cable television and the Internet. 3D will also impact the health and medical field. Don’t forget electronics, manufacturing, automakers and much more.
In fact 3D printing, if it works the way the industry promises, will impact nearly every industry and every business, worldwide. That’s the enormous size of the opportunity.
However we still have a big crevice ahead between prototype and actual production. Will we build a bridge over that crevice or will we fall in as the industry collapses? That is the million-dollar question.
At this point I am very impressed with what I am seeing and hearing. So far I have confidence in this new space. I think we can indeed print a 3D bridge over that crevice and get to the other side safely.
When we do that, we will see an explosion of companies and ideas and technologies enter the space in high gear. We will see countless workers moving to this exciting new space with new companies, or existing leaders. We will see countless investors jump into the space, still having little real knowledge of the industry itself.
Remember, 3D printing is a brand new space so there are no real regulations in place yet. So, like the Internet of the 1990’s, 3D printing is the next Wild-Wild West. And all of us will suddenly be very interested in this complicated space.
In the early days every company will grow and look very innovative. Every company will attract workers and investors. Over time, many smaller companies will be acquired by larger firms. Many will make it and others will fail.
Choosing correctly is always important. Years later we become smarter about this potential opportunity. As we work our way down the funnel we will get pickier on the companies we actually invest in, work for or partner with.
3D printing is actually a great idea. It let’ you create, very inexpensively and very quickly a model to see whether something works or needs changing. Then finally when we are ready, we can send it to the printer for manufacture. This will help create better products more quickly and more economically.
Perhaps we won’t 3D print toaster ovens, but we will use it to build computers or make customized medical devices for each patient, or parts of a body, as companies like Organovo (ONVO) are working on. Say you need a new artery or organ because yours are damaged or clogged. Just 3D print it.
There will be countless very complicated and also very simple things that 3D printing will be able to do for us. It will be faster and cost less money. It will provide solutions that simply are not available today.
Hewlett Packard, General Electric (GE) and so many other companies are entering this space. There are also a wide variety of mid size and small companies in the space. And there are always a wide variety of smaller startups.
That means an entire industry is being created as we speak. This is a very exciting opportunity for the future.
I will be writing more about this 3D opportunity because I believe in its potential to turn the world on its head, for the good of all mankind. There are countless companies and ideas that are trying to break through the noise of a chaotic industry.
We’ll work our way through the noise and find some of the interesting stories. More to come.