Also known as “additive manufacturing” or “rapid prototyping,” 3-D printing is the printing of solid, physical 3-D objects. Some see 3-D printing and related technologies as having transformative implications. “Just as the Web democratized innovation in bits, a new class of ‘rapid prototyping’ technologies is democratizing innovation in atoms,” Wired magazine’s longtime editor-in-chief, Chris Anderson, stated in his new book Makers: The New Industrial Revolution.
In this article, the authors examine the rapid emergence of a movement called open-source 3-D printing and how it fits into a general trend toward open-source innovation by collaborative online communities. They then discuss how existing companies can respond to open-source innovation if it occurs in their industry.