This week we bring you our pressing topic of the moment straight from our reader-driven discussion boards! There are plenty of discussions taking place surrounding 3D printing and its role in our lives in the future—will digital fabrication be implemented universally for more sustainable, localized manufacturing? Will people actually be 3d printing objects they need straight from their home?
To start things off, Core77-er ralphzoontjens brings up some solid observations:
The web search interest in ID is steadily declining. On the other hand and not surprisingly, the interest in 3D printing has steeply climbed in recent years.
Industrial Design vs 3D Printing Google Search Trends 2005-2015
Together with the fact that job prospects for industrial designers do not look very good at least here in the Netherlands, I wonder if this chart reflects only the search interest or if there is an actual shift where most products of the future will be 3d printed - with customizable shape and details rather than a static form to be mass produced in molds - and therefore will require a different type of product designer. I am leaning towards 3D printing being and staying suitable only for a few niches. But I am wondering, are we really all going to customize everything we buy and have it 3D printed?
This sort of question brings up hot debate, and rightly so. Mr-914 points out interestingly enough that as "Industrial Design" Google searches go down, the interest in "UX Design" goes up, saying, "If you consider UX design, it doesn't look as bad. I think that design is changing. Here in Montreal, I've seen a small rise in salaries and I can only assume it is because some designers are shifting to UX, which is much better paid."
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Then there's the question of how consumers will actually utilize 3D printing in the future. Will people really want to customize every single object they order online or make? And in what areas will 3D printing become particularly useful? Ralphzoontjens postulates,
I feel that for many consumer products, we will see a shift towards mass customization enabled by digital fabrication technologies, and that this is only the tip of the iceberg. 3D printers will always remain slow relative to mass production, on the other hand everything is made to order so supply meets the demand, no mold storage and maintenance is needed, multiple parts can be integrated, and I feel that if the cost can be kept down enough, even though it is only an additional 'layer' in the product experience, customization is what people want. The success of NikeID proved this - even though you can't try on your shoes in an actual store and the price is higher, people are going to want to co-design their own products. And there are plenty of opportunities...
The value of 3D printing is now definitely mostly in the medical field, as well as in lightweight multifunctional metal parts with intricate geometries, parts for small batches and in the near future multimaterial graded parts.
What are your thoughts about the rapidly evolving world of industrial design and the role of designers in the next coming years? How do you see 3D printing being implemented in the consumer market in the future?
Share your thoughts and design insights in the comment feed below!
(Also feel free to check out the original post and contribute on our discussion board!)