Thinking: When 3D printers become commonplace…

I should really go to bed (I’m actually just off), but I’ve been thinking lately and suddenly this really big insight crashed down upon me and I just have to write about it. Not just a small Facebook update. That won’t do, this is bigger than that. The head-line gives half of it away.

As 3D-printers become more advanced, they’ll be able to do more things. They’ll also likely become more wide-spread. Let’s play with the thought they’ll follow the route of the computers. As they’re basically for physical objects what computers are for information and data.

When 3D-printers become commonplace, a physical object of printable material will be about as valuable as information. Because it will be information. And here’s where it gets fun.

When physical objects become information, everyone can create them. The programs for doing these things virtually are partially already there – Autodesk’s Maya and 3D Studio Max, Mudbox and the Open-source Blender and similar already lets you create 3D-objects. Or, rather, they can create a nice shell. This is enough to cause a real uproar. Porcelain and simple furniture doesn’t need much more than that to be digitally constructed. Tools for creating hollow objects, or objects with interacting parts, such as a watch, will have more time before the interfaces and programs become advanced enough to recreate these things.  This means everyone able to build something in 3d can create new objects! It will be many times easier to build something to try out. An “open-source” movement might take off for physical items to improve its design (“this new box is more robust than the old box”).

When physical objects become information, people will be sharing it. Imagine the piracy-problem entertainment and software media has been fighting the last decade, but move it to every other industry producing items. That’s a lot of people. In fact, it’s pretty much all the industry in the world. The intellectual property rights/integrity fight that’s been going on the last few years might seem like a slight breeze.This will pose a problem

When physical objects become information, industry will forever change. As “file sharing” gets an entire new level of meaning, industry will have to seek proven solutions, which so happens to be where entertainment and software-industries in general, and gaming in particular, happen to be today. But although they’ll be able to take some ideas (such as Digital Distribution, Freemium/Free 2 play/subscription fees), they’ll have new questions that are unanswered. Gaming has managed to decrease appeal by doing peripherals or merchandise. What happens when this, too, can be downloaded?

My point is, we involved with entertainment or software – or, with gaming, both – are the pioneers of how the world might spin in the future. And that’s a responsibility we shouldn’t take lightly.

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