Ponoko CEO David Ten Have by Williams + Hirakawa, via Inc
We have written so much about downloadable designs, about shipping ideas all over the world instead of stuff. It just keeps getting better, with more products and more options. That is why I love Ponoko so much; it is the first real demonstration of the concept. Now that they have added a hub in Europe, you can see the first real concrete example of the effect of multiple hubs: Shipping costs in Europe dropped from $60 to $9.
Ponoko CEO David ten Have says in a press release:
"It provides a glimpse into what we see as the future of Ponoko. Over time we see our role expanding to be about connecting creators, digital fabricators, materials suppliers and buyers of goods rather than simply providing manufacturing services ourselves."
It will be a future with a lot less stuff sitting around in warehouses and big box stores waiting for customers, and a lot more mass customization of exactly what we want instead of what they want to sell us. Where the furniture store has gone the way of the record store. Inc. Magazine said in a recent profile:
Buying a physical product -- a cell phone, for instance -- will be as easy as buying an MP3 on iTunes. Products won't be shipped in containers; they will be downloaded as digital design files and then printed on our desks while we sip our morning coffee. Not only will this be exceedingly convenient, but ten Have says that it will reorder the global economy, green the planet, and unleash an unprecedented wave of creativity as regular people design their own stuff.
ten Have suggests that this might be 50 years from now; I suspect it will be a lot sooner than that.
Hewlett Packard is introducing a 3D printer this year, made by Stratasys, which sells this uPrint 3D printer for $14,900. That is about what I paid for my first Calcomp plotter back in 1985 so that I could go CAD; it has been replaced by much more effective and dependable printers that do the same job for a twentieth the price. 3D printing will follow the same trajectory.
More on Ponoko in TreeHugger:
Ponoko + ShopBot = 100K Garages: This Changes Everything In Downloadable Design
Ponoko ID: If You Can Think Of It, They Can Design and Make It
Ponoko Online Furniture Manufacturing: If You Dream It, They Can Build It