What 3D Printing will look like in 100 Years

Recently we were asked to write a ‘100 year plan’ for a large company revolving around 3D printing and their existing business.

I have this strange relationship with these types of plans. On one hand, I know that predictions 20 years into the future are nearly impossible, while predictions 100 years into future are a larger magnitude of impossible. On the other hand, I believe that these kinds of plans are extremely practical because they force you to extract the essence of a thing and not get bogged down in the supremely mutable that seems to govern most of our day to day activities.

That being said, I focused on what I believe to be the mega impact of 3D printing on society, the shift away from a global economic model that chases cheaper labor inputs to a much more local and much more tailored economy that cares more about transaction costs and personal fulfillment/experience. I suppose this is somewhat apropos to my last article about why 3D printing is going to ‘bring jobs back’

Some of the content was removed or altered because I’m not sure how much I can/should share:

What happens when all your product tags read “MADE IN [YOUR ZIP CODE]”

Perhaps the most significant fact about 3D printing is not that it can make anything. It is that it can make anything, easily and by combining multiple steps into a single process. With this in mind, and contrary to popular imagination, the world is going to get much more local. The origin of the clothing you wear or the cars that drive you around, will likely read “MADE IN [YOUR ZIP CODE]”

1)Preference towards Local supply chains rather than global supply chains

2)Lighter weight consumer and business/industry goods

3)Mass customized tailored/products


At scale, The marginal cost of a product is largely determined by weight

As multiple manufacturing steps are consolidated into a single process, the minimum capital requirement to begin competitive mass manufacturing is decreased and transaction costs (overhead) will become a greater ratio of overall production costs.

As capital requirements are decreased, it will become easier for regional players to enter the market

As transaction costs go up as a % of marginal cost, and other costs remain fixed, profitability will be a function of reduction in transaction costs.

More regional production reduces transaction costs

3D Printing reduces weight primarily through complex optimized shapes that join together multiple assemblies into a single discrete part. Even today, a multi material 70 part assemble can be reduced into a functionally equivalent single discrete part.

Mass customization has two requirements

1) Data the nature of what is being customized can be broken into a unit of data at a fundamental level, someones name on a design is data.

2) Implementing the customization needs to provide more net benefit than not customizing. Demand for customized products exists. But is prohibited by high cost. However, with 3D printing, the marginal cost of implementing a new design is 0.

If there is unfulfilled demand for customized products we can expect to see customized products being produced at a rate similar to the adoption of 3D printing.


For the past 27 years, 3d printing has grown at an average CAGR of 26.2% and is currently a 12B USD market. If this growth rate continues for 100 years. It would become a

153149906803 B USD market
Even adjusted for inflation, this number seems unlikely, but it seems likely that 3D printing is poised to dominate how we make things.

Roughly 1/3rd of the market is from 3d printing materials and this is expected to increase as a ratio as productivity of 3D printing machines goes up.


Leverage its materials know-how to seek a wholistic Materials + Machine + UX solution designed for localized manufacturing.

To achieve this, create a fundamental understanding of what it means to 3D print/additively manufacture something by developing an internal knowledge/skill set and applying these principles on a small scale as a part of everyday business.

Develop a cross discipline team in materials, logistics and manufacturing, 3D printing, UX, and marketing.

In 100 years there will be 4 phases.
Develop a self contained solution that will fulfill the needs of your existing industrial clients.

Create a intellectual property base that can be leveraged for a competitive advantage as your market segment expands beyond bespoke industrial clients.

Scale your previous industrial solutions to a new more distributed client segment while implementing the sales and distribution systems that will allow this to be done at scale.

Implement your new distribution model to ‘consumers’ creating a 1 to 1 relationship with millions of billions of new manufacturing clients.

Set achievable company milestones based on the limiting factors for segments of around 5 years. Each one of these goals could itself be considered a product/deliverable.


Now read this

NASA living on Mars with 3D Printing

Recently NASA announced the 5 winners of its 3D Printed Habitat on Mars competition. From a 3D printing perspective, this seemed to be successful of implanting the idea that 3D printing is going to be the dominate technology of space... Continue →