Our weekly series into future trends suggests that we might have dedicated 3D print shops, or maybe 3D printers in local building supplies stores that will be able to print out any 3D design for you overnight.

A few decades from now we will probably all have multipurpose 3D printers in our homes, but between now and then, we will be able to go to local 3D print shops to do a quick printout of anything we need. Email them the design file, and drop by later today to collect it. Simple.



Today’s, Throw Forwards Thursday starts in the past and then jumps us into the future.

I’ll never forget the moment when my grandmother was taking a photograph of my children, her great-grandchildren for the first time. She lived in a different country, we hadn’t seen her in a long time, and she didn’t realise what was about to happen because she had one of those old-fashioned film wind-up cameras.

And as she took the photograph, my daughters ran around and said, let’s see, let’s see, show us the photo. Of course, my grandmother was a little confused and bemused girls, you can’t see the photo. I’ve taken the photo, but we’ve got to take the film to one of those 24 hours processing shops, and we’ll only be able to see the photos in a few days’ time. My daughters, of course, didn’t understand that having been born in the era of digital photography.

Remember, if you’re my age, you remember if you’re a young person, you’ve probably been told, you know about this. It does really feel old fashioned, but in every single shopping mall and in lots of locations around every city in the world, you had photo shops where you would take your film and however long it took, maybe 24 hours, maybe as you waited, but you then only got your photos back.

That’s the past. What about the future? Throw Forward Thursday is about jumping into the future and seeing what might happen there, wondering how long it will take us to arrive into that future, and I think that in the future, we are going to have 3D printing shops all around our cities.

Over a year ago, in episode eight of Throw Forward Thursday, I talked about 3D printing. I’ll put the link into the show notes, whether it’s the video or the podcast. Just have a look here, you’ll be able to get that link. I think it’s a video still worth watching.

I was a little bit excited and breathless about all the things we’re going to be able to 3D print, from pretty much anything that you can see in your house to meat and replacement body parts and houses and buildings. Well, I still believe that we will be able to 3D print a hang of a lot of things, go and watch that video.

But now what I want to add to that is that you don’t have to have a 3D printer in your own house, and you don’t have to have all of the components and raw materials to be able to do all of that printing. That would be pretty much impossible. So, what we are likely to have is at the local hardware store, there’ll be a 3D printer and you can take your design down to the 3D printer and within a few hours, or probably overnight, they’ll print it up for you.

Any component that you want in your house. You want to build a new bookcase or a desk or a new door or something that needs to go as an ornament for the wall. You’ve got something that broke in your car, and you want to replace it. You need a new tool that needs to be precisely the right size or a cover for your new phone or computer. In other words, all the things that we can think can be 3D printed. You just take the design down to the overnight 3D printing shop and you go back the following day and pick it up.

3D printing shops, mark my words, we are going to see them in probably a hardware and do it yourself stores, but in many locations around our cities in the future. Here, 50 years after that, we’ll all have 3D printers in our own homes, but between now and then, this is a business model ready to explode.

Throw Forward Thursday, where we jump into the future to see what’s going on there and suddenly discover there’s a business opportunity for everyone. 3d printing coming soon to a store near you.

I’ll see you next week when we jump into the future again.


Episode 8 on 3D printing – Watch here


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Graeme Codrington, is an internationally recognized futurist, specializing in the future of work. He helps organizations understand the forces that will shape our lives in the next ten years, and how we can respond in order to confidently stay ahead of change. Chat to us about booking Graeme to help you Re-Imagine and upgrade your thinking to identify the emerging opportunities in your industry.

For the past two decades, Graeme has worked with some of the world’s most recognized brands, travelling to over 80 countries in total, and speaking to around 100,000 people every year. He is the author of 5 best-selling books, and on faculty at 5 top global business schools.


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