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Perhaps the biggest threat to the stability of big companies is the empowerment of their customers. As the everyday consumer is gaining a louder voice and greater access to both information and options, businesses are having to fight harder and harder for their attention.

What businesses may not have expected is the further empowerment that would be brought about by 3D printing.

In the lead-up to Mother’s Day a few years ago, I teamed up with the engineering team from Griffith University in Brisbane, Australia, to take part in an experiment live on national television. In this experiment, my engineering colleagues and I would print an intricate necklace from scratch over the course of the morning show with the hosts periodically cutting back to us in the studio to check on our progress. The angle for the story was something along the lines of ‘Don’t buy your mother a gift this Mother’s Day, print her one instead!’