Feeling hungry? Why not print yourself a nice steak and some potatoes?
Yes, you read that right. Modern Meadow, a company based in Columbia, Missouri, is combining regenerative medicine with 3D printing to produce edible meat. The possibilities are endless—imagine being able to end world hunger with a technology that can produce food on demand?
This massively disruptive technology has huge potential to impact our daily lives as consumers. Need a pair of custom shoes? Imagine being able to input some personal data, choose colors and styles, send the file to the printer…and pick up a brand-new pair of shoes.
Basically, if you can imagine it, you can print it.
Jochen Rode, who heads the digital manufacturing program of SAP’s research department in Dresden, Germany, told Business Insider that while roughly 70 percent of the 3D printing industry is still in the “rapid prototype” stage, the remaining 30 percent is actively using the technology to produce small batches of highly specialized parts.
That 30 percent is growing—rapidly, says Rode. While the current use of the technology is limited to extreme niche markets, the day when 3D printing becomes part of the omnichannel world is coming.
What happens to retail and commerce in general, both consumer facing and merchant to distributor, when goods are available simply by clicking a link, downloading a file and printing that file?
Not only will copyright laws be thrown into chaos, so will the idea of how we buy and sell goods. Will we see a rush of merchants scrambling to enable 3D printing technology for their products? What will it mean for supply chain management and logistics?
While it’s too early to tell exactly what kind of changes will follow, it seems clear that 3D printing will force everyone—consumers and sellers—to look at physical goods and how they are distributed in a new way.
Much like digital commerce is changing to meet the whims of the consumer when it comes to media consumption, this technology will be similarly disruptive and smart companies will start preparing for the challenge now, before it threatens to overwhelm.
Fast. Personalized. Shoppable.
It starts HERE.
Photo: Creative Tools, Flickr