‘Disruptive Perspective’ identifies the impacts of potentially disruptive technologies and innovations in 3D imaging that are transforming the broader business landscape with massive implications for our global society and economy.A disruptive technology is one that moves up market, displacing established products and services with entirely new offerings, while changing the way companies pursue strategic goals.
The automobile was a disruptive technology, but it was the mass production of the Ford Model T, displacing the horse-drawn carriage, that made it a disruptive innovation. The personal computer displaced mainframe computers.The disruptive potential of technologies impacting the 3D imaging industry is already reordering procurement and R&D priorities for firms, and appears ready to hammer home profound changes for business across numerous dimensions.
The global market for 3D data capture, modeling and design, and deliverables is rapidly growing. This paradigm-shifting market is being driven by high demand from both industry and consumers - from 3D-printed jet engine parts and toy figurines to cloud-based, 3D infrastructure plans for building and managing sustainable cities.
Industries served by enhanced 3D imaging capabilities range from AEC (architecture, engineering and construction) to manufacturing (automotive, aerospace, refining, nuclear power, offshore construction), to civil, transportation, public safety, and building infrastructure project work.Still, many in the 3D imaging market today running hard just to keep up with technology advances in hardware and software, many based on IT advances including cloud computing and mobile Internet.
For instance, cloud computing is fueling huge growth in web-based services, including various pay-as-you-go service business models, which many software vendors in the 3D digital imaging use. Emerging technologies such as data fusion, robotics and machine vision, and multi-sensor unmanned aerial vehicles, to name a few, are showing the range of 3D imaging applications andopportunities appears innumerable
Much of today’s demand is also being fueled by mainstream adoption of the 3D printer across several market segments under a new category called “prosumers,” which includes engineers, designers, architects, manufacturers, entrepreneurs and individuals, using 3D printers for professional purposes and personal applications.3D printing is helping to “democratize” the manufacturing and distribution of products and services with faster, more efficient printers and more a wider range of robust printing materials - from photopolymers to thermoplastics. And prices for both are getting cheaper.Let’s face it, on-demand production will have enormous implications for managing supply chains and inventory, potentially freeing up manufacturers of major costs.3D printing manufacturers Stratasys and MakerBot estimate between 35,000 to 40,000 desktop 3D printers were sold in 2012, and said that number should double in 2013.General Electric (GE) is the world’s largest user of 3D printing technologies in metals, which it claims helped it cut production times by up to 25 percent.
Business and consumers are also intersecting in what is being called a “geospatial revolution,” thanks to the explosion of mobile device usage with more people accessing the web last year via mobile devices than their personal computer.This seismic shift in the production, distribution and consumption of maps is seeing new social and business ecosystems fusing web, mobile, tablet and crowdsourcing platforms with geospatial data in a realm called “web GIS.”These innovations in high-res geospatial, spectral and temporal sensors coupled with increasingly accurate terrestrial, airborne and mobile laser scanning and multi-sensor photogrammetry systems - all running on the growing strength of computing power and cloud-based applications - means for industry, as it ramps up into the heart of its growth curve, it must remain educated of latest trends and market dynamics, and listen closely to customers’ needs.Since I began at SPAR in March, just about every few weeks, a technology advances or a combination of existing technologies sets the bar a bit higher for the established order. Some of these are ushered into the marketplace laden with hype and often dubbed “game-changers” and “breakthroughs.”But, obviously, not all of the “latest and greatest” to hit the market turn out to have a lasting impact on how business is conducted.It’s my job to inform and prepare SPAR readers, the 3D imaging industry at large, and their customers, which technologies or innovations matter most now, and what their potential is for disrupting your business in the future.