martes, 16 de octubre de 2012

New business structures for 3D printing

Personal fabrication is a new business model that requires new structures, and new conceptions of the market. Chris Anderson´s theory, "the long tail" adequately explains the phenomenon that has been going on for some years with manufacturing: We´re moving from traditional model consisting of some few companies fabricating lots of a few products demanded by average market, to a new concept focused in making a few products for a lot of niche markets, with a potential bigger market that extends to infinity asymptotically (the long tail).

This potential business sector is as substantial as traditional market, and is growing on recent years thanks to democratization of technology.

Differences between traditional manufacturing model and this emerging model oriented to personal fabrication are showed in next figures:
 Above figure summarizes traditional production scheme: A few companies conceptualize products based on market researches (reflecting wishes of average user) and manufacture them according their know-how (different for each company) using mass production techniques, and 24/7 working industrial machines. The result is measured in money units, and depends on market degree of acceptance.

The other figure presents a new business model: Upstream of the process, a user/manufacturer duality define product requirements, based on their own experiences, emotions and sensations. The know-how then moves from businesses to users, who are increasingly able to set up devices and  productive aspects in their living rooms, in order to materialize a product that meets a one person market: themselves.

Outcomes of this model can not be measured with money since there is no financial transaction between manufacturer and end user. Instead there is certain degree of emotional component because of customizable products touching users at a personal level (objects for celebrations, commemorative rituals, jewerly, etc.) ... features not offered in traditional manufacturing.

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