The appetite for the latest new products and services is growing exponentially driven by the 24 hour, on demand, social media driven, next day delivery expecting, ‘selfie’ posing with the new shiny object, hyper informed consumer. Satisfying the demand for this fast-paced consumer cycle requires manufacturers to move rapidly to stay ahead of competitors and consumer tastes. They must bring interesting and exciting new products to market in a timely fashion, whether they are first to market or responding to a competitor’s new product offerings.
Two specific trends are emerging and transforming how the industry develops, manufactures and meets the demands of the new on demand consumer driving market - crowd sourcing and 3D printing.
Manufacturing Game Changers: Crowdsourcing and 3D Printing
Crowdsourcing is not a new development model. In fact, the open-source model gave us the Linux operating system and the Apache Web server over 20 years ago. But there is one very distinct difference when applying crowdsourcing methodology to a manufacturing process, as opposed to software development, and that is raw material. This is where 3D printing technology is rapidly maturing driving orders of magnitude efficiencies and cost savings into the value chain.
A Printed Car
In fact, a start-up called Local Motors is on the cutting edge of combining crowdsourcing and 3D printing to revolutionize the automobile industry. In a process that Local Motors calls “co-creation,” — also known as “crowdsourcing” — the software allows enthusiasts to post a design for a part that other users in a worldwide community can call up on a browser, see in 3D, take measurements from, and comment on, thus providing a new model and methodology for innovation. Local Motors then leverage 3D printing technology to deploy “microfactories”
Can crowdsourcing and 3D printing produce an electric car?
As Kevin Sullivan points out in his recent blog, partnerships are an important strategic approach to today’s R&D and innovation. Kevin recommends strategies that industry-winning manufacturers can follow.
Investments in innovation are exciting. They inspire creativity and they fuel our economy.
What an afternoon of innovation looks like at Cisco
I was thrilled to discover that an institute for manufacturing innovation was recently launched in Youngstown, Ohio. This effort embodies a publicly and privately-funded partnership aimed at fueling R&D and innovation. Along with the U.S. federal government, a consortium of impressive manufacturing firms, universities, community colleges and non-profit organizations formed a partnership called the National Additive Manufacturing Innovation Institute (NAMII). They contributed a combined $70M to the Youngstown manufacturing innovation effort.
Motivated resources from a variety of academic, manufacturing and business backgrounds will come together to advance technology and manufacturing. And what will this Youngstown institute focus on first? Additive manufacturing. What is additive manufacturing? It’s the more formal name for 3D printing. And it’s quite cool.
It seems like something out of Star Trek. A “replicator” – something that can create any complex object from generic raw materials, such as powdered metal. Well, these replicators actually already exist, and they are called 3D printers. The process by which objects are created by 3D printers is called “additive manufacturing.”
If you’ve never seen additive manufacturing in action, then prepare to be impressed: Read More »