Many retailers can legally force suppliers to switch to 3D printing (Wired UK)


Andre Wegner
Andre WegnerNate Lanxon


Many retailers can legally force suppliers to switch to 3D printing, Authentise founder Andre
Wegner revealed to the audience at WIRED
Retail
. The intriguing fact is not necessarily a command for
sellers to immediately start pressuring manufacturers to change
their business model. It is, however, one of many tidbits
Authentise has up its sleeve to help its clients welcome in the new
age of rapid prototyping on-demand.

“If someone doesn’t want to move on this, somebody else will –
because everyone else is following suit, UPS Nike, Nasa,” said
Wegner. For those companies that want to move with the times, but
do not work with willing suppliers, “there is a slight legal issue
that puts a lot of power in retailer’s hands. It’s
astonishing”.

“In many cases suppliers have given digital rights to objects
they sell [for marketing purposes] and that extends to CAD design.
So you can force your suppliers to the table. You can say, ‘if you
don’t do it with me, I’ll do it without you.”

Authentise lends support to those parts of the retail industry
that want to move into 3D printing in a protected way. For
instance, if you’re a designer and want to retain the intellectual
property rights to your creation, Authentise will help you stream
the raw file securely straight to the 3D printer without sharing
it. Another issue is quality assurance — Wegner points out that a
gifts company has to make huge orders, but cannot be sure of the
quality until the delivery is made to consumers. “Now, they can
order 300 and see how it goes before ordering more.”

Customisation is obviously a huge part of the benefits of 3D
printing, whether at the consumer level in-store or at the
warehouse. However, Wegner explained that he is most excited about
the bigger picture of how it will impact the entire supply chain to
great benefit. $8.5 trillion is spent on getting something from A
to B, he points out, and that causes plenty of problems. Meanwhile,
3D printing has gone from being about prototyping, to creating
functional products used in orthopaedic implants, jet engines and
F1 vehicles.

“The next step is obvious: spare parts. The equation is so
simple it must be true. There’s a huge failure in the supply chain
and a rapidly emerging alternative. Ten percent of products
manufactured digitally — not just by 3D printers — are close to
point of use.” This is where we will see growth. Wegner cites the
benefits of something like 3D Hubs, which has allowed 11,000 Fairphone cases to be printed
in the past 12 months with no central production location — the
cases are printed in areas local to where they are ordered, and are
delivered by hand or post. “What really excites me is this
curveball in the industry. We will go from the transition of
knowing we want something and thinking it’s available, to knowing
we want something and getting exactly what we want. There will be a
freedom of movement of thought.”

“The next generation of CAD-natives will accept this without
being impeded by the brainwashing we’ve been through. They’ll be
able to create anything they want.”

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24 November 2014 | 6:37 pm – Source: wired.co.uk

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