36: How 3D Printing Will Rock the World
3D printing has been a buzz word for some time now. I think for most people and indeed myself it often feels like 3D printing has not lived up to its promise. I thought this technology was slightly overrated. That was until I came across John Hornick’s book 3D Printing Will Rock The World.
What John points out in his book is the potential future impact on business and personal life. He explains where this disruptive technology started, where it’s going and how everything will change when you can make anything.
I’m not an expert in this field so I reached out to John and asked if he would mind appearing on the show to talk a little bit more about the world of 3D printing. I think you will be blown away by a few things he has to say.
Can you tell my listeners a little more about you and what you do?
Yes. I am a partner in a law firm called Finnegan Henderson. We have been around for about fifty years and we focus on intellectual property such as patents, trademarks, copyrights and trade secrets.
I’ve been a litigator for most of my career but over the past several years I’ve gotten really involved in the 3D printing industry. I’ve formalized our practice in that area to what we call our 3D printing working group. We advise clients on how printing can benefit them or hurt them and how they can protect their intellectual property rights in that area.
A couple years ago I started writing a book on this area. The book was published in December 2015. It’s called 3D Printing Will Rock The World.
Disruptive technology is already eliminating barriers across every industry. I read how you believe that the 3D printer is going to take this level of disruption one step further as the old ways of operating will stop working. Can you tell me a little bit more about how and why 3D printing can perform this level of disruption?
Traditionally when you made a part you would need ten or twelve machines to make a general assembly line and each one of those machines was run by a separate person. With 3D printing you can make the entire part in one build in one machine so you have less machinery and less labor. When you have less labor it costs less to make the part which means that you can start to make those parts in places where labor costs are high.
Do you think the generations that have grown up with technology on five screens (laptops, desk tops, phones, tablets and TV’s) are going to drive the disruption as well?
To some extent I think they are but I think the real drivers are the ones who are kids today. The ones who are in elementary school and primary school today are the ones who are going to grow up more with this technology and the technology is going to grow up with the kids. An important factor is not just learning to use the technology but learning to design for it because things have always been designed for manufacturing.
Can you think of any examples of how 3D printers are already being used in multiple industries?
There are two sides to this industry, the consumer side and the industrial side. The general public mostly thinks 3D printers are the consumer side.
Machines that are $5,000 or less are the consumer side and those over $5,000 and up to $5,000,000 are the industrial machines. Those machines have been adopted in the aerospace industry, automotive industry, and health care industry.
Do you agree that technology is creating new jobs for skilled workers?
I do agree with that. Think about when the horse was our major form of transportation. We had all sorts of horse related jobs. Then when the automobile industry came along those jobs were lost. But think about all the jobs that were created by the automobile industry that nobody could even conceive of when they were riding around on a horse.
The same thing is happening with the 3D printing industry. It will eliminate some types of jobs but it will create many other types of jobs and new types of businesses that we can’t even really conceive of right now. And it’s already happening. It’s creating hundreds and thousands of small, what I call fabricators, in the industry. They call them service bureaus, they are small companies that own these machines and they use them to make parts for customers locally. A lot of them are start ups that are 5-10 years old.
What is the best way for my listeners to connect with you or buy your book?
The easiest way to get the book is on Amazon. It’s available on paper or electronically on Kindle. I also have a website called www.3Dprintingwillrocktheworld.com that has links to buy the book and it also has my other articles and videos.
My law firm Finnegan’s website is www.finnegan.com and a lot of information about me is on there but also all of my colleagues who practice in this area.