How 3D Printing Could Change More Than We Think

So if you follow our Twitter feed, you saw the awesome news that Teenage Engineering, a synthesizer company, encourages people to print 3D replacement parts for their synthesizers.

Now that’s awesome on the whole cool-technology-culture, thing.  It’s also pretty awesome from a customer service perspective.  But I want you to think about this a bit further.

  1. This idea is great for making things easier on companies and customers.
  2. There are sites like Shapeways that will 3D print for you.
  3. There are also industrial collectives that have various tools people pool money to use.
  4. This is a lot like Print On Demand.
  5. Print On Demand is spreading, such as Kodak’s deals with CVS. (If Kodak can stop laying people off so they don’t have enough people to do it).

Now you probably see where I’m going here.  If POD is spreading, 3D printing can spread as well – it certainly seems to be.  I can easily see companies like CVS, Lowes, Home Depot, etc. keeping 3D printers around to make custom components.  Hell, some companies may let you print entire products in time.

Think what this means culture – and of course career wise.

  • People will need to be able to operate these things.  This changes supposed retail jobs and may give people options to move up at careers – and think of how companies may need POD or 3D printer managers and experts.
  • Companies could use this as further outsourcing.  They could literally exist as entities providing directions and support to print.
  • This changes consumer behavior.
  • This chances storage and mailing behavior.
  • This will bring up a lot of fascinating legal challenges (go for it geek lawyers).

So what do you think?

– Steven Savage

Steven Savage is a Geek 2.0 writer, speaker, blogger, and job coach.  He blogs on careers at, nerd and geek culture at, and does a site of creative tools at He can be reached at