If you follow the manufacturing space, you’ve probably heard that the industry is undergoing a significant change, accompanied by terms like “New Industrial Revolution”, “Third Industrial Revolution”, “Manufacturing 3.0” and “Maker Movement”.
We should ask, ‘What does this change actually mean for consumers?’
The new industrial revolution will have an overwhelmingly positive impact on consumer experience by allowing more customers to get what they want, when they want it and at a price they’re willing to pay. Today, no product is too quirky, offbeat, personalized or complicated to be brought to market.
Consumers can obtain these through ways like purchasing them from one of the small, agile manufacturing companies that have emerged to address customers with niche requirements. These companies have targeted customers who want a more personalized product and are willing to pay a premium for it.
Alternately, consumers can now invest in products they want by directly supporting projects in crowd-funding places like Kickstarter or Indiegogo. Crowdsourcing is also another channel for fresh ideas to become reality, with the added benefit of improving the quality of designs through cross-disciplinary collaboration and by gathering early feedback. These ideas also play nicely into the thought of Distributed Manufacturing.
The Rise of 3D Printing as the Driver of the Democratization of Manufacturing
3D-printing allows consumers to turn highly individualized concepts or designs into real-life products via a “personal manufacturing” process. As 3D-printing services and consumer devices become more affordable and ubiquitous, companies will start making digital versions of their products and parts available. Consumers will be able to download, modify and print these digital versions directly.