3D Printing and the Internet of Things
3D Printing – Consumer Goods
Internet of Things or what many prefer to call IoT is a wide and rather nebulous segment of emerging technology that deals with smart or connected devices. IoT is very much the buzzword for any traditionally ‘dumb’ device that is now connected to the Internet by way either a wired Ethernet or wireless WiFi connection and which can be accessed, operated or manipulated on the cloud through the use of an app on a smartphone or tablet.
3D printing has made it possible to prototype and build various of these IoT devices quickly and for less money than traditional manufacturing would have required. A great example of IoT devices are the connected home appliances which range from smart cameras (which turn on and start recording once the inhabitants are gone from the building), various smart thermostats, smoke detectors, smart lightbulbs and even robotic vacuums and appliances that are set up to work on automatic mode, usually when the users are not home.
3D printing makes it possible to quickly create prototypes of these devices and easily test how they fit into various environments as well as how they could possibly connect with each other.
At the end of the day, IoT is about objects that connect to their users or to other objects like never before, and being able to create devices that are friendly, easy to use and are more interactive is going to be important going forward.
IoT is fueled by innovation, which can happen more quickly by rapid prototyping and in real world testing which is helped by the quick turnaround and ease of sharing files that 3D printing offers. IoT is fueled by existing and emerging technologies and we’re seeing faster evolution of processors, wireless radios and other features that enable better and more efficient connectivity.
This means the need for faster creation of revisions and shorter time to market in an area that is expected to be swarmed and highly competitive since countless companies around the world are innovating at a quick pace. With 3D printing, manufacturers can create improved IoT products, correct earlier mistakes and ship new versions of hardware faster than ever before.
Faster hardware revisions also mean the ability for companies to seek out and partner with each other by testing prototypes of products together before they hit the market. IoT can really only make sense to consumers if it is integrated and they can get various products that are compatible with each other and lend themselves to being managed or controlled in one app or interface.
Rapid Prototyping makes this possible and quicker iterations and speeding up generations of products as components become more readily available. 3D-printing can ensure that innovation continues to evolve for Internet of Things.