Adding Our Way to Abundance

How 3D Printing Will Obsolete the Economy of Scarcity and the Corporations that Rely On It

Photo Credit Oskay

One concept you’ll be hearing about a lot in the next decade is Additive Manufacturing.

This is a fancy name for something you’ve likely already heard of — 3D printing. In traditional manufacturing, we start with a lump of something, then whittle it down into the product we want. Like Michelangelo, we cut away everything that is not “David”. There’s nothing wrong with this method, and we’ve made amazing advances this way — but simply put, we’re reaching the limits of what can be done by “milling away” a lump of material to leave behind the object we want. As impressive as such displays as this one are, what if we wanted to incorporate electronics into the finished piece? Obviously, we would be able to make areas to enclose the electronics, and channels to run the wires through and so on. But that means we have to make a helmet with who knows how many parts, with individual sections produced on separate machines, via separate processes, and then assembled to make the final product. But, then we have to worry about how we attach all those pieces together to make the final product too…

Of course, we have production lines and machines capable of making all those individual parts. It’s been one of the primary achievements of the industrial revolution. Being able to make millions of identical parts is one of the triumphs of modern technology, and has been a huge factor in enabling us to create our advanced civilization, but it’s become a stumbling block to further innovation. Why? Because it’s become a barrier to small scale industry. It’s not economical to build a complete assembly line to build five or six products. This has thus made it “too risky” for businesses to create a product that might sell only a few hundred or a few thousand items. It also means that in order to meet demand, manufacturers must make thousands to millions of items in the hope that all of them sell, and if demand is less than anticipated, the surplus items are essentially wasted. This, in turn, makes the mass market overly sensitive to economic upturns and downturns. Since it takes months to years to design, create an assembly process, and then actually make the product, manufacturers won’t bother with anything other than what they feel is going to be a very successful product. Because of this, subtractive manufacturing has become a “gateway” through which only a small number of innovations may pass, and which discourages “revolutionary” innovation in favor of “evolutionary” fine tuning of past successes.

There are many advantages that mass manufacturing has brought with it, such as the economies of scale which have enabled massive reductions in the cost of nearly everything. The computer revolution certainly would have been impossible without it. But there are very definite limits to what can be made via subtractive manufacturing, and while we haven’t reached them yet, we are getting nearer to them with every passing year.

So what really makes “Additive Manufacturing” different than “Subtractive Manufacturing?” Right now, not much. We’re still perfecting the various processes and expanding the materials that can be used, but progress in this is proceeding at an extremely fast rate. When the first 3D printers were created over a decade ago, they were little more than glorified 2D printers. I can recall a model of the earth which was created by essentially cutting sheets of paper via laser into precise shapes, that were then glued together layer by layer to make the finished globe. But since then we’ve made enormous progress- so much that the army is researching a derivative of that original laser printer to fuse titanium particles into finished parts for instant tank repairs. We’ve also learned how to use different materials from plastic to stem cells to conductive metals and dyes. DuPont recently printed a 50 inch Oled display in under two minutes, using various layers of conductive fast drying dyes laid down in precise patterns.

But it’s what we are likely going to be able to do within a decade that makes Additive Manufacturing so disruptive. To begin with, it’s going to eliminate mass production. Eric Drexler and I disagree about this fact, but to put it bluntly, when 3D printers have matured, assembly lines will be quickly phased out of existence. Why would you need an assembly line to make sub pieces of a final product, when the printer can print every single subcomponent needed for something with moving parts, or can print an entire device that doesn’t require moving parts? 3D printing also makes it possible to create devices that are impossible to create with subtractive manufacturing, such as a tablet computer that is a single solid block of plastic in which every circuit is embedded, the entire surface is simultaneously a display and a camera, and which is completely impervious to water, dust, sand, and effectively indestructible under most environmental conditions, which can be made for pennies per unit.

It can also print stem cells to manufacture organs, as Organovo has already proved. By mid decade, it could eliminate the need to have transplants, by simply printing out a new organ from the patient’s stem cells. By decade’s end, we could even be using it routinely for minor cosmetic surgeries. Want pointed ears like Spock’s? Just print them out, and have your surgeon replace your ears with the new pointed ones, and he’s even likely to use more stem cells to speed heal the wounds, using a layer of stem cells between your skull and the new ear to create new tissue in a matter of hours, instead of weeks. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg.

But, let me ask you this. What’s the difference between growing a heart for a human, and growing a steak? They are both possible to produce with the correct stem cells, so what really separates the ability to create medically viable living organs, and the ability to create delicious tissue from a cow?

Not really much at all. Once we’ve solved the problems of making organs, making rib-eyes will be a walk in the park. Yes, there are numerous issues that need to be solved for mass production, but we are making such enormous progress in the field of bio-printing that it seems likely we could see “food printers” become a reality by 2020 as well. That’s not to say they will be commonplace, or that they will have eliminated the need for agriculture or the cattle industry, but functional commercial units by that time are quite possible.

But even as marvelous a possibility as that is, it’s still not why 3D printers will be so majorly disruptive. It’s the fact that additive manufacturing will eradicate the entire concept of “stores” as places you “go to” to “buy stuff.” You see, while we will start off with large manufacturing companies developing and building massive and large scale printers to make cars and airplanes and ships, for the “average customer”, it’s kind of pointless to stock a store full of small items that could be printed on demand. It’s a waste of money to pay a clerk to stock the shelves, a waste of space to have a physical store, and a waste of time to ship an item from a central location. While we will start out with printers in the hands of manufacturers, they won’t stay there, and it won’t be because we demand personal manufacturing devices. It’s going to be because as 3D printers become commonplace, manufacturers are going to realize that they can cut out the middlemen. There’s no need to make a product, store it, ship it, pay taxes to import or export it, or even keep an inventory when a customer can simply buy the product from your website and have it printed out right in their own home. We will start out with factory based printers, then shift to store based printers, and end up with home manufacturing units.

Did you grasp the inevitable logic of this occurrence, or did your mind immediately jump to dismiss its possibility? If you’re like most people I’ve discussed this with previously, you’ve probably missed the single factor that makes this inevitable. Cost-cutting. Look at this from the manufacturer’s side. The only cost they have incurred is the R&D cost of designing an item, and the cost of running a website. They don’t even have to concern themselves with obtaining the raw materials to make an item from, nor do they have to pay a staff to run the printers, pay the electric bills to run the printers, rent a building to house the printers, pay a transporter to haul the products to market, have a warehouse to store extra products. In fact, they will have put ALL of these issues off on the customer. All that they will have to be concerned about is designing a product, testing a few dozen prototypes to fix the rough edges, and viola, a market ready product at minimal cost that need only sell a few thousand copies to pay off design fees, at which point everything else is pure profit.

If I have faith in anything, it’s in corporate greed. Once it’s cheap and easy to put a 3D printer in every home, and eliminate every cost of manufacturing to the “manufacturer” by passing it on to the customer, major corporations will get it done in a heartbeat. And they won’t give a damn about the consequences, because the only concern will be the profit of the moment.  CEOs will be all too happy about the billions they will save by making their companies cost nearly nothing to run, while still selling the same number of products at the same price they used too.  It’s all too predictable.

But the fact will still remain that by doing so, those very same corporations will be destroying themselves. They will be counting on their brands to continue carrying the same weight they did in the industrial era, and they will assume that by eliminating costs, they will be able to keep on charging the same price while making almost pure profit. And they will be right, at first. Humans are nothing if not creatures of habit. In fact, if you look at the rise and fall of Second Life as a business platform, you’ll see a real life example of what will inevitably occur. Hundreds of Big Name businesses went to Second Life expecting to be as successful there as in first life, but since the object creation ability in SL gives the little guys the exact same ability to compete as established companies, they had a rather difficult time competing. Branding just doesn’t have the same impact when anyone with a little Photoshop knowledge, and a smidgen of talent can offer a product of equal quality for a fraction of the cost. There were many other factors as well, but one part of the SL story is that the big corporations went in expecting to be the big dogs, and found that they were just another member of the pack.

And once there’s a printer in every home capable of making almost any product, there’s absolutely nothing that will stop someone from deciding they don’t care about a brand, but will be quite happy with a knock-off that does exactly the same thing, but costs almost nothing. So when people start realizing that anyone can design a product, and sell it online exactly like a large corporation, that “name brand” is going to mean less and less, just like it did in Second Life. By pushing the cost of manufacturing onto the consumer, corporations will open themselves up to competition from every quarter. Subtractive manufacturing requires massive resources to be competitive. Additive manufacturing will cost nearly nothing. And unlike subtractive manufacturing, a product doesn’t need to sell millions of copies to be successful. This will be true regardless of what the product is, be it an electronic device, or a new type of roof shingle, or even a new biochemical concoction, like a steak with garlic glands that activate when you cook it.

You will, of course, be thinking that the big corporations won’t make it that easy — after all, they thrive on preventing competition — and you’d be right. I fully expect every effort will be made to try and lock customers into “exclusive contracts” that would force the end user to buy a different printer for every brand name, and to create “DRM” for printer designs and products. But if the iPhone taught us anything, it’s that where there is a will, there is a way. “Jailbroken” printers that are “DRM free” will hit the market within hours to weeks of the corporate ones, as well as DIY printers like RepRap, and the open source market will eat them alive. I’m sure that like the MPAA and RIAA, a few sensational cases of prosecution by big companies against various open source products that are “too similar” to their “proprietary design” will make the news, but the sheer volume of competition will overload the ability of the courts to keep up. The public will ignore the random few who get raked over the coals, and before you know it, the corporations will go bankrupt as product “costs” trend towards zero.

The cost won’t actually reach zero, because you will have to pay for the power and the raw materials needed to supply your 3D printer.  But there are other factors that are likely to make those expenses minimal, among them numerous advances in such areas as solar, hydrogen fueled devices, ultracapacitance batteries and eventually perhaps various flavors of fusion for the power required, and developments in materials design too numerous to list. However, I’m going to stress something here — a reason why the “open source” movement is going to do so well against the big corporations in this domain.  Subtractive Manufacturing needs “workers” to man the factories. But Additive Manufacturing is more or less 90% automated. There will be no need for “workers” or “factories”, and thus no need for humans to be those workers. The “open source” DIY movement will overwhelm the big corporations simply because with so many people out of work, making no income or minimal income, they will have little choice but to buy the “cheap knockoffs” and “almost free” designs. By “cutting costs” so drastically by eliminating factories, warehouses, delivery systems, and stores, the big corporations will also be eliminating the “consumers” who they depend on to make those billions, because those “consumers” are the very same people they are firing in order to maximize profits. In their quest to wring one more bonus out of the market, they are in the process of killing their own cash cow. And with so many people out there jobless, where do you think they will turn to try and make money? With a few tutorials on product design, software assistants for making a web page and free 3D CAD systems like Google’s Sketchup, you’re going to see a flood of new products being made available to anyone with a 3D printer. The “Gate” that currently exists that limits new product design will have come crashing down, and Joe Schmoe from Idaho will be on an equal footing with those “brand names”.

Now, this is not going to take place overnight, but I would be willing to bet it will take less than a decade from the time that Additive Manufacturing becomes a “commercial manufacturing process” (probably adopted by the electronics manufacturing industry first, due to the need for shorter and shorter product development times between “generations”), and the home 3D manufacturing unit. At the current rate of progress, that starting date is likely to be within the next few years. There are already companies in the process of setting up those first additive manufacturing factories as I write this, and as I mentioned above, the Army is already researching the ability to use 3D printers in the field for immediate creation of parts for repairs. This is already much too far along to view as anything but a near certainty.

Perhaps I’ve already scared you half to death, because if my prediction is right, it’s going to mean a lot of people will be out of work — but there’s another aspect I’d also like you to consider.  You may have heard of the term “scarcity economy,” and its opposite, the “post-scarcity economy.”  In brief, in our current economy, value is determined by how “scarce” any given product is.  But if your printer can print just about anything, from food to electronics to household furniture — then what can be defined as “scarce?” Right now, that printer might only be able to print using plastics and dyes and other simple materials, but it should be obvious that we will be refining those materials and enabling those printers to print ever more complex objects. As other innovations such as nanoelectronic computers are perfected, the complexity of both what can be printed, and what it is possible to design, will increase exponentially. Even as Additive Manufacturing is destroying many of the institutions of the Industrial Revolution that we have come to take for granted and even depend on for income, it will be providing ever greater access to resources and products at lower and lower costs, reducing the need for that income as we can meet our needs more cheaply. By the time the old economy of scarcity that we live in today has collapsed, Additive Manufacturing will have helped give rise to the Economy of Abundance. It’s not the only development moving us towards that future, and it will not be a smooth transition by anyone’s estimation, and there will be many trials and tribulations along the way. But that’s been true of every major paradigm shift in human history, from the discovery of tool making to the Industrial Revolution.  Step by step, kicking and screaming in protest all the way, we still keep walking down that road towards a better  future.


  1. And as empowering tools, 3D printing could even bring new political possibilities:

  2. True post-scarcity is going to have to wait until people can produce or recycle feedstocks.

    Mass/bulk producers will have an advantage for most products so long as mass/bulk production of feedstock is in the production loop, allowing them to achieve lower costs than home production through economies of scale.

    Think about how/why home printing/copying didn’t put book printers out of business. That will be amplified, at least initially, by the need for multiple feedstocks to meet different desired product attributes.

    We may see some localized production (e.g in copy stores and hardware stores) over this decade.

    Probably some form of limited home production will catch on, where cost savings are not the primary consideration – hobbies, school projects, etc.

    A small/cheap CNC machien would be much more flexible than a single-material printer – able to shape wood, plastic, maybe aluminum.

  3. Not coming fast enough.

    I, however, suspect that just as professional photigraphers have not dissappeared with the advent of digital cameras and agazines and newspapers have not gone with the advent of printers and blogs neither will brands disappear. Ikea for example.

  4. There will always be scarcity and the need for money. I think the concept of a “post-scarcity economy” is unimaginative and incredibly naive. It makes the assumption that people will always want ‘only’ what we want today.

    When we can easily satisfy our current wants, we will think of new wants – endlessly.

  5. Yet 2D printing, even augmented with the internet, did not end the paper book industry.
    Although it certainly helped with the diffusion of ideas.

  6. There will still be some scarce things. E.G. land. On Earth at least.

  7. Fascinating stuff. But I don’t buy the SL analogy. The QC risks I take with my avatar and my real kids are very different. Brands will matter.

    I’m also not clear on how my home printer’s “cartridges” of plastic and iron and silicon and paper and …and… and.. stay filled.

  8. I’m a recent graduate (BBA in Marketing and BBA in International Business) and I’ve been employed by a hotel management company in Malaysia performing quality assurance.

    This field is extremely interesting to me, but I have some questions:

    Because additive manufacturing is going to be ever-increasingly emphasized, will there be room for quality control and quality assurance jobs in the coming decades? Am I jumping on burning train?

    What are your thoughts?

    • There will be vast opportunities for QC and QA jobs.

      There just may not be much of a paycheck attached to it.

      Among other things, VR will likely become a huge source of “entertainment”, both in the sense of MMOs as well as “VR settings” like Secondlife. Your training could be applied to “prototyping” these environments, testing them to ensure that every “guest” to your “virtual hotel” can enjoy the same quality experience, even if those experiences could be radically different.

      At no point do I ever say that there will be no jobs. Merely that the current systems of “work, get paycheck, consume” are going to be massively disrupted, and that new systems will have to be found.

  9. Conservation of energy still applies; conservation of population never has. Your entire “post-scarcity” concept is invalid. Interesting, but invalid. Also, you make a lot of assumptions. Claiming to predict the future’s innovations is, simply put, dumb. My livelihood is innovation, and I’m damn good at it. Time after time, though, I have and have watched as others near success only to prove that continued effort would be futile until fundamental conditions have changed. Changing fundamentals of our known universe is beyond innovation; that’s discovery, something of which cannot be fit to a statistical model, and therefore is not predictable.

  10. And here is a PDF by Hod Lipson “Associate Professor of Mechanical & Aerospace
    Engineering and Computing & Information Science at Cornell University in
    Ithaca, NY. He directs the Computational Synthesis group, which focuses on
    novel ways for automatic design, fabrication and adaptation of virtual and
    physical machines. He co-founded the Fab@home project to develop low
    cost, open-source 3D printers. He has led work in areas such as
    evolutionary robotics, multi-material functional rapid prototyping, machine
    self-replication and programmable self-assembly.”

  11. I haven’t read all the comments, but what strikes me as a concern is quality control. Just as I love to visit and other such sites for reviews and product evaluation, savy consumers will do plenty of research on design quality and longevity before committing their raw resources to a product. The implication then will be a growth and strengthening of product researchers who will fill in those quality control folks at the manufacturing entities.

    Great article by the way.

  12. Great read, Val! Additive manufacturing is definitely looking like one of the more interesting technologies coming out in the near future.

    I shudder to think of what it’ll do to the unemployment rate… But I’ll remain hopeful that everything will turn out alright in the end.

  13. The reason I use short time frames is because this is just one of several dozen radical technologies that is reaching maturity right now, and because there is news of a breakthrough in all of these various tech on a nearly daily basis. Also these techs are related and advances in one tends to result in advances in others. These are all basically hitting the “knees” of their exponential curves

    Feel free to disagree. I do however believe I have more than sufficient evidence for my views.

  14. The short time scales predicted in this article, combined with use of terms like “inevitable” or “will cost almost nothing” makes me think of overconfidence bias.

  15. Genius… It’s like socioeconomic jiu jitsu– we cant take the elites head on really lest it end in catastrophe so instead we use their own greed against them so that they inevitably cannabolize themselves, and ultimately transition into a post scarcity society via the optimization of technology.The zeitgeist movement could use you

  16. Damn, I’m not amused by the idea that anybody can print a nuclear bomb in own kitchen.

    • As that would require components that are unlikely to become readily available even with 3D printing, due to the extreme rarity of the atomic base elements, which have very little utility in the kinds of products that would be desired by the overwhelming majority of the public, I rather seriously doubt that this is a possibility.

      • “As that would require components that are unlikely to become readily available even with 3D printing”

        Actually it would be pretty easy there are alot of low grade sites that someone can use. Remember you have the ability to build your own purification systems with the 3d printers. Plus solar cells and power storage to power your little bomb factory. So its entirely in the realm of possible. not likely but possible.

  17. I have a question for the author of the article “Valkyrie Ice”. Is this what you see for the next 10 years only, or does this article cover more time than that? I would agree with much of what you say, if this article is only covering the next 10 years. But I see much more radical change in the years follow that (2021-2050). If you (the author) could please clarify the timeline of this article, it would be greatly appreciated.

    • I see this covering the next 10-15 years only, and think by decades end is most likely. Beyond this point I see 3D printers morphing into full Nanofactories.

      Primarily this is to illustrate that 3D printers alone could lead to abundance, even prior to fully functional nanofactories.

  18. Hi there,

    I think you are missing an important point. You cannot sell any packaged information on the net. That’s a ridiculous concept. So that is not how 3d printers accelerate tech. Free sharing and development of hardware designs would. Think GPL. The average tinkerer would work on both free designs and his own designs, both of which he can sell.

    But the real revolution does not come from corporate designs, which you cannot sell, at all. They come from free designs. Because they will be the main way the exploited and poor regions of the world will create new wealth.

    And of course you keep missing the point that it will make the sub-human economic system of capitalism itself obsolete. So indeed you shouldn’t rely on “corporate greed”, and as transhumanists we should be intent on destroying capitalism and the power structure it wields.

    • What you seem to miss is that is entirely the point of this article.

      Maybe you should re-read it? Attempts by corporations to “sell packaged information” are predicted to fail, and fail badly. They are already. But has this stopped the MPAA or the RIAA? Not in the slightest. I don’t expect corporate designs to succeed much past the first few years as companies make the shift to AM factories, then AM storefronts offering “products on demand” and finally to home based AM printers. And all during that time I expect the DIY and GPL crowds to be increasing in quality, and competitiveness, so that when the corps finally are forced to take that last step in a desperate attempt to remain profitable, they will find they stepped into a spiked pit.

      Corporations are not going to abandon their obsolete models of business without doing everything they can to “cash in” at every stage. And this is pretty much the only way they can make ANY profit as we shift to additive manufacturing, and even though the end result is their demise and the elimination of Scarcity, it’s still going to take considerable time for “capitalism” to be abandoned, since it has been taught as a fundamental meme to most of the world. It’s going to take a hard period of it suffering failure after abject failure to function in an economy of abundance to finally penetrate these belief systems that have been embedded in generations of people.

      That’s why I suggest you re-read the article, because I agree completely with everything you’ve said, and you seem to have completely missed that fact.

  19. For real expense savings, 3D printers need to be designed so almost everything can be broken down, thrown back in a recycle bin and used for another project. Think of the storage savings as well in that scenario.

    • I also see the not too distant (within 10 to 15 years) ability to break any material down into component atoms (basically the most primitive level of basic nanotech.)

      Eventually 100% recycling will turn our “junkyards” in to gold mines.

    • Fusion torches would also do the job. We CAN make them now, but they’re not yet practical.

  20. IF we work towards a three dimensional printable world, we must also develop the elements to unwritten as well as rewritten by the items we use to create – thus a broken dish could be rewritten into a whole again, by rewriting its pattern and using its original elements.

  21. I don’t think you realize how much money is used as THE control on behavior, on both the micro (individual) and macro (nation) level. A transition to a post scarcity environment would deeply threaten geo-political power structures that more or less rule human society. Many people are in denial that our society even has elites. They call this “conspiracy theory.”

    If the drive towards nanofactories accelerates in the next 20-30 years, new more direct control measures may be implemented. People may not have to work 40 hours a week, but they may also be recorded 24/7 by nearly invisible yet ubiquitous sensor nets inside and outside the home. People that don’t meet a standard of behavior by the emerging global superstate or singleton ( necessitated by the dangers of molecular nanotech) could easily be sterilized by similar nanobots. A kind of robotic mosquito carrying engineered biotoxins. This is barely scratching the surface of the kinds of abuses MNT could make possible.

    Before we celebrate the demise of wage slavery, let’s try and recogize we’re not exactly out of the woods yet. Money may be gone, but sociopaths and control freaks, some of whom have a nasty habit of finding themselves in postions of power, will still be here. It will be a long, hard fought battle before humanity is ever truly free.

    • Do you mean sterilized as in unable to procreate or sterilized as in euthanized?
      Procreation need not be biological. I can adopt a child and teach them all I know. Also, biological children do not necessarily follow in their parents footsteps.
      I worry on a grander scale whether these technologies will be quashed for the sake of the economies of the corporations, at the cost of the people.

    • The problem is that I am all too aware of every factor you discuss, and I do not find them in any way a hindrance to the phase shift in social reality I am discussing. In fact, most of them are DRIVERS towards these changes.

      Money is nothing more than a proxy for “Status”, and “high status” actors inevitably seek to suppress threats to their status. They always have, and by doing so, inevitable create the very “threat” that they seek to suppress.

      Sure, “elites” will try to use “big Brother” to control “Little brother”. It is meaningless, because at the same time the “elites” are developing ever greater “spy tech”, other elites, governments, corporations, and even the masses will be acquiring the same technologies. I fully expect “surveillance wars” to escalate until no-one anywhere is not being recorded and observed. In fact, I’m counting on it, because when no one can escape observation at ANY LEVEL of society, then no-one can escape being held accountable. Increasing the ability to spy means increasing the ability to be spied upon in turn after all.

      The same goes with manufacturing. As I pointed out, home units will be a gold mine for megacorps… At First. And then they will lead to their inevitable destruction. We are already seeing the end of megacorps, with their desperate attempts at “corporate welfare” in the US.

      The point is, I see every single negative thing you discuss. I also see PAST them to their final results, and don’t stop at the interim stage when the greatest efforts to prevent these changes through authoritarian pressure are underway.

      Every single major paradigm shift in social reality has been resisted. They have all occurred anyway. And just like you, there have been people who can only look to the first stages of resistance to change, and fail to see that resistance is always greatest just prior to that resistances collapse.

      To get a greater understanding of these factors, I recommend reading my blog. I don’t fear tyranny, because tyranny has a limited lifespan and always gives way to a more free society. There is no example in history where this has not been the case. And the faster technology has advanced, the shorter the lifetime of any given tyranny.

    • I think the usual forms control will not be available to the elites, statists, etc. Once food, power, manufactured goods, and more can be made at home their will be few cut off switches. Weapons of all sorts can also be printed. I see the end of nations as we know them. Also the end of taxation.

  22. The first thing I will print is a new 3D printer 🙂

  23. There is a company working on artificial meat …

    Food for 3D printing is a good idea

    And building body and robots ( remember the fitht element movie ?), and cars… and UFOs

    • Chicken Nuggets and Fish Sticks are practically printed food already.

  24. Hello,

    You are right

    But this time you missed the “production line”

    The energy is abundant ( just from the sun )

    But you will need atomic and molecular production line, or supply chain

    It could be done with (GM) algae culture, bacteria culture to replace biochemical molecule from oil.

    • There are still numerous hurdles to “universal printers”, including the productions of “feedstock” for them, nor do I claim that “all” manufacturing will be done by home units. After all, many products will require printers of a scale much larger than that which would be feasible in the home. But the bulk of products used daily would be “printable.”

      As we advance in materials design, I could easily see that the bulk of everyday products might be made from carbon, in the form of graphene and CNTs, with only minimal need for other elements. That is however not something we can currently predict. That we will find solutions is certain, what those solutions will be is not.

  25. Marketable qualities will include style and elegance in design. Any “Joe Shmoe from Idaho” can hack up something that works with his open-source CAD program, but the real artistic whizzes & design genii will be at the top of the game, over & above corporate R&D shops. Sure, their designs can be instantly replicated once they are on the open market, but a recognizable style will still net recognition & fame for the designer.

    • @Artor.

      Exactly my thoughts. There are however developments in software that will make being creative easier for everyone, but those same developments will likely supercharge the truly creative among us.

  26. Banks and retirement funds will be in big trouble. The value of their stocks will decrease enourmesly. Which investments will still have decent returns?

    Interesting times…

    • We will need to create a new economy, one that is not based on fiat money 😉

      • I suspect the role of money will diminishes greatly in a post-scarcity society. But how will people gain status (a basic human drive)? Artistic or social accomplishments? Things like that you can already see in rudimantary form on the internet. There few care how rich you are, it is more about how good your social skills are, how famous you are, and so on.

        • @Dutchcon

          I actually view “status seeking” as one of the primary drivers of our current society, with even money and the economy being little more than proxies for “the pecking order”.

          And I see additive manufacturing as being a “Great Leveler” within that “pecking order” one of many that we are developing today that will eliminate many of the “status symbols” we currently use to define our places on the pecking order.

          We will have to cope with the reality that sooner or later, every status marker we’ve taken for granted will be meaningless, and we will have to create new ones, one far less dependent “accidents of genetics” or “exploitation” of others. I don’t have answers for what they will be, but the sooner we face these changes in social reality, the less disruptive they will be.

    • Only the value of low-cost manufacturing will go down. There will be growth in the rest of your investments. Think of all the shipping/royalty costs we’re paying now as a “parable of the broken window”.

    • Would that even matter? In the Economy of Abundance won’t everything be so cheap that you won’t have to worry about pesky things like finanacing your retirment?

    • Only the value of low-cost manufacturing will go down. There will be growth in the rest of your investments. Think of all the shipping/royalty costs we’re paying now as a “parable of the broken window”.

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