Television was first demonstrated back in the 1920s. But it was really wasn’t until the late 1950s that it took off. I don’t think breakthrough technologies take 30 plus years to make it into the mainstream any more. Maybe it’s better to say that once they reach their tipping point, their adoption accelerates dramatically. Why? Because that they come around no longer surprises us.
3D printing appears to be such a breakthrough. It’s already in use for prototyping, some kinds of customization, and no doubt uses I don’t know anything about. Here’s a link to some things they are being used for. Yup, there are definitely some I didn’t know anything about.
But what motivated this post was a short, six minute Ted Talk from a woman who’s working on printing fashion garments. That kind of hits close to home. I imagine that like me, when you watch this you’ll say, “There’s no way in hell I’m buying four 3D printers, running them in my home 24 hours a day, then having to put the garment together from pieces.” I was curious as to what’s involved in putting the pieces together, but she doesn’t tell us.
I imagine we all believe the technology will get better. Printers will get faster, cheaper, and will work with more materials. I’ve previously shown you this link about 3D printing getting 100 times faster.
When that happens (Next year? The year after? I don’t see it taking 10 years) how do things change for retail and the fashion business? What does it mean to have a store if your inventory is mostly software templates and material powders for consumers to load on their home machines? Actually, they may keep a stock of the commonly used powders at home for convenience- sort of like we all have some extra sugar and flour in our pantries.
Do you need to come into the store to check for fit before you buy? Not if your body has been measured/scanned and the software you down load adjusts itself for your body shape. Would this mean no returns or warranty issues? What happens to our distribution networks? Who needs Federal Express and UPS!
Here’s the link to “Forget Shopping. Soon You’ll Download Your New Clothes.” As a brand or retailer (and most of you are both), I don’t see how you can’t have a room where you are experimenting with one or two of the current 3D printers. They aren’t very expensive.
I’m sure this will evolve in ways and with repercussions I can’t imagine. Those surprises will create opportunities for some of you.