Is 3D printing the start of a nanoeconomic era?

3D printing, also known as additive manufacturing, is basically a production technique where an object is manufactured – layer by layer. This is in opposite to traditional manufacturing where objects are carved out of a bigger piece, and where there are many production steps and extensive use of machines and other resources. With 3D printing you basically need one machine and one material for production. In addition, there is no need for anyone to supervise the machines.

Nanoeconomics is a concept introduced by K.J Arrow in 1987. Nanoeconomics is the economic theory that describes single transactions, and is positioned under microeconomics. You can consider this concept as a form of sharing economy, where the idea is to share available resources like car seats, coach and rooms. People today utilize their resources through services like Airbnb and Uber.

3D printing is a technology in rapid development, and from only being a technique for plastic objects, it is now possible to print objects in aluminum, titanium and other metal substances. Even food is possible to print. In the future you should be able to print almost everything, from clothes to furniture. The 3D printer is today affordable for many and it keeps getting cheaper. In the future, many homes will be equipped with a 3D printer and the printers will have available capacity that could be sold to others.

Since there are many types of 3D printers, in which have their own special use, there will be need of many types of printers to supply the demand. Imagine if you had a printer for clothes, your neighbor one for wood objects and your colleague one for metal objects. This would give you access on many of the products you buy today. If you need something else, you can just log into an online market place and place an order for the required product. The nearest 3D printer with the necessary equipment responds and after receiving the 3D drawing, it starts producing the unit. The day after, the product is ready for pick-up. This will save logistic cost and will be good for the environment. You will also cut out potential middlemen as you buy directly from the “factory”.

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