2010! A new year, a new decade — a very good time to reflect and to look ahead. I can't quite believe how fast the last year, indeed the last ten years have flown by. Probably a sign of my age, but let's not dwell on that.
Happy New Year to anyone reading this in the next week or so. I really do hope that the next twelve months will be as happy and as engaging as the previous 12. As I take stock, I am quite astounded that I have spent a whole 12 months now working for myself, and it has gone so much better than I could ever have imagined this time last year. I love it. Particularly the fact that I have been fortunate enough to work with some truly inspirational people, promoting companies and products that I genuinely believe in. All but one project that I worked on throughout 2009 was focused on the additive manufacturing (AM) / 3D Printing (3DP) industry, which is probably not that surprising really, but I am truly delighted to still be so involved in this fascinating and dynamic industry sector.
Keeping abreast of all of the news and updates is a little more challenging than it was before launching RPES, as the information no longer lands in my inbox, I have to actively search for it. That said, the breadth of my knowledge is still growing and as the result of signing a couple of NDAs with my clients I am also extending the depth of my knowledge, and it is compelling, to say the least.
I am not yet convinced that 2010 is going to be as easy as some commentators predict, I think there will still be a distinct cautious approach to business. However, overall AM & 3DP has fared quite well (comparatively speaking) and I do believe that these sectors will continue to move forward and grow this year.
One company in particular that I think will have a major impact on the uptake and therefore growth of the 3DP market is A1 Technologies. As I mentioned before, I am lucky enough to be working with a number of companies that I personally believe will make a big difference, and A1 Technologies epitomises this for me. The company supplies a range of quality but low-cost hardware for product development — specifically 3D printers, a 3D scanner and 3D interactive software (http://www.rap-man.com/index.asp). And when I say low-cost, I mean very easily affordable for ANY budget. And just to clarify, when I say quality, I mean extremely competitive with comparable products that cost up to 10x as much. This is the key to unlocking the potential of these technologies, providing high calibre products at a price that virtually any company is able to consider. The hard part is convincing people that it is for real and that the products themselves are not inferior just because they do have such a low price tag. Overcoming the skepticism is a major mission for me this year!
The other angle that A1 Technologies is approaching increased uptake from is that of education and getting the technologies into the hands of students — tomorrow's engineers — and not just those at university. By increasing awareness from primary school age upwards, the availability of these technologies will infiltrate the consciousness of a whole new generation of designers and engineers, engaging minds that may not have considered engineering as a career path. The pay-off from this approach will take some time to achieve, but there is no doubt that the pay-off for the product development industry and manufacturing in general, will be huge.
2010 is going to be a really interesting year and I am very much looking forward to it.