API Driven 3D Printing and Manufacturing Supply Chain

I'm working on a new trends section of API Evangelist.  One area i'm tracking on is the opportunities around 3D printing and APIs.  

I did some fun research, and laid down some interest thoughts on APIs and 3D printing in 2011.  This was part of some research I was doing while working at Mimeo.  

As I do with all my research, I blog along the way, to help me learn and organize my thoughts. With this trends research into 3D printing, I am working to understand the major components of 3D printing so I can see where APIs are can have the biggest impact. 

I've identified 10 major components of 3D printing:

  • Creators - 3D designers of virtual print objects
  • Scanners - Scanning hardware for generating 3D models
  • Modeling Software - Applications for building 3D models
  • File Formats - File formats for storing 3D models
  • Warehousing - Virtual storage for 3D models
  • Marketplaces - Arenas for showcasing, distributing and ordering 3D products
  • Printers - Companies and hardware that deliver 3D printing
  • Process & Materials - The process and materials that go into 3D printing
  • Makers - The people who understand 3D printers, process, materials and industries
  • Delivery - Logistics behind getting 3D printed products to consumers

Of course this is just my perspective of the industry and can evolve as I learn more, and collaborate with other industry players. 

This series was just to help me understand the major components, and I will do another series on how APIs can impact these areas.  I also have a summary post on ProgrammableWeb.com about the role of APIs in 3D printing.

3D Printing is something I will be talking about a lot in 2013.  I think all of these areas I laid out have the potential to be radically transformed by APIs.  I will be taking my original research on 3D printing from 2011 and see where I can evolve it based upon what is going on in the 3D printing space in 2013.