Wednesday, 4 September 2013

3D Services or 3D Printers?

"I think there is a world market for maybe five computers" is a remark attributed to Thomas J. Watson, chairman of IBM, in 1943. As we now know, computers turned out to be rather more ubiquitous. A similar quote was made in 1946 by Sir Charles Darwin (grandson of the famous naturalist), then head of Britain's National Physical Laboratory, where research into computers was taking place. He wrote: "it is very possible that ... one machine would suffice to solve all the problems that are demanded of it from the whole country."

These pioneers were entranced by the ability of their primitive yet gargantuan machines to perform any conceivable calculation. At that time, Watson and Darwin could not have considered the relationship between future computing products, their applications and value-added services.

Jump forward to today. We each have a 'super-computer' in our phone. Yet IBM's server business is ailing, Google is made of commodity hardware and 70% of IBM's revenue is now in technology and business services.

How many 3D Printers does the world need? Who will own them? What will they be used for?

Shapeways has 50 printers. As of June 20, 2012, the company has printed and sold more than one million user-created objects.

With this in mind, watch in awe as Alexis Ohanian takes a tour of Shapeways and speaks to 3D designers, engineers and operations experts as they explain the story behind one of today's biggest 3D Services companies.

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