Over the years, I’ve done many talks within the manufacturing industry, putting into perspective the real trends and opportunities for innovation that will allow for reinvention of this sector. Lots of CEOs are bringing me in for a leadership meeting, knowing that their future will come from aligning to fast paced trends (as opposed to wishful thinking as found in the current political environment). Much of the opportunity for innovation in the sector involves advanced technologies, digitization, new manufacturing methodologies and process — and of course, 3D printing or additive manufacturing.
I’ve been speaking on stage about 3D printing for well over ten years. The concept of having a printer that can ‘print’ physical things is a fascinating one, and is evolving at a furious pace. Earlier this week, I did a talk for a manufacturing organization in New Haven, CT, that included a detailed overview of who is doing innovative work in this area. I’ll blog about that later.
For now, though, a lot of the opportunity from 3D printing comes from the ability for rapid prototyping and design. It unshackles organizations from having to commit to a full production run upon finalizing a product design; instead, it leads to an iterative process in which the product design can be continually changed. In addition, there is quite a bit of ‘grassroots’, tinkering innovation around 3D printing, with folks fooling around in their garage or home workshop to developing fascinating new products. They can then use contract 3D printing manufacturers to turn their ideas into a physical product.
To that end, here’s a great story! Last year, when I was the opening keynote speaker for the annual PGA Merchandise show, I spoke to the Professional Golfers Association as to how quickly 3D printed golf clubs will become an opportunity for innovation within the game. Watch the clip.
Imagine my surprise the other day when I’m out for a round at my home golf club, Credit Valley Golf and Country Club, and meet a fellow member named Gary Woolgar. He’s actually 3D printing his own custom wedges, using his first prototype on that day. (I’m not quite sure I understand the design concept, but then again, my golf game is a bit of a shambles right now).
It’s such a fascinating story that I told it on stage last week when I headlined a session on manufacturing innovation for a global, $2 billion company. Watch this clip too!
This is one of the most exciting aspects of 3DPrinting — the world around is changing at a furious pace, and sometimes, its driven by engineers who have an idea, the tools to test the idea, and the initiative to make it work. Organizations need to embrace the same type of thinking: grassroots innovation, tinkering, and trying out new ideas, methodologies and technologies.
If you are in the manufacturing sector, you need to empower your team to do the types of things that Gary is doing. It’s only be experimenting with the tools of the fast pace future that you can discover the opportunities they will present. In other words, you need more guys like Gary around!