I was reading a Wall Street Journal – Latest Headlines post today (“Measuring How 3D Printing Impacts IT“), and I got all hung up on this common use of the word printing. I think the terminology is lacking.
To be certain, the devices we call 3d printers, are based on printing technology, and we have a growing number of companies that are involved in an industry that includes manufacturers, service companies, suppliers, software developers, etc. However, when most people look into the future and talk about the use of this type of technology, I believe they are really talking about replication, and perhaps what geeks call 4d.
Replication, and 4D are a bit outside what the word, printing, conjures up in my mind. To me, talking about future distributed manufacturing, or replication technologies as printing is like calling an automated espresso machine a coffee pot.
IMHO – articles like this do not adequately convey just how disruptive and advanced these technologies are, and I have my doubts about our ability to design an IT infrastructure for replication. Perhaps, that is why it’s called a disruptive technology.
IT gals and guys need not worry to much about this challenge. Most IT industry responsibilities will be covered by future automation, robotics, and (yes) replication 🙂