Rick Chin is the director of product innovation at SolidWorks, where he develops new products and researches how technology will make us smarter, simplify daily tasks and seamlessly fit into our everyday lives.
In 20 years our technology will reach a level of personalization that will enhance every moment of our lives. We’ll be more physically comfortable with the furniture we sit on and the products we hold; only the most relevant and personalized information from friends and family will reach us; and our movement in the digital world will be near telepathic.
I foresee several of today’s technologies as relevant to this particular vision of the future. They will evolve to not only be more powerful, but also more integrated with one other.
7. CAD, 3D Printing & Custom Products
Computer-aided design (CAD) products are popular among engineers, designers and students for creating 3D product designs. But the software is often too advanced for the average consumer to design his or her own products.
In the future, however, CAD will allow the average consumer to design his own custom products that are both manufacturable and affordable. Consumers will be able to use simple software to combine predefined, configured product features. They’ll be able to personalize further by adding their own color palate, pictures, shapes and even personalized sizing.
3D Printing (3DP), like that from Dimension, is another amazing technology that will take a 3D CAD model and “print” layers of material, one on top of the previous, to produce a real physical model. It can create almost any shape, even those that can’t be made by traditional manufacturing. The downside today is that the process is slow, costly, and often doesn’t produce parts strong enough for real world use. The technology in this industry is always advancing, and in the future, it will be able to produce robust parts quickly and cheaply.
3D Printing in an industrial setting is often referred to as “additive manufacturing.” As products are ordered online, versatile manufacturing stations controlled by robots will quickly and affordably crank out custom-manufactured products. The robots will be controlled by process software that will be integrated with future CAD.
Online custom products are slowly gaining popularity. You can go to NIKEiD and design your own customized Nike shoes. The downside is that they are pricey and will take several weeks to get to you. Other websites such as ShapeWays and Ponoko are useful for many DIYers. The mass market appeal of sites like these will grow in the future (when combined with the simpler CAD described above) with fast, flexible and inexpensive manufacturing.
X Current Technologies That Will Shape Our Future
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