A New Model for Rapid Progress

I’m an impatient person. I think that’s part of the reason why I’m enjoying 3D printing so much. It seems to be following an amplified version of the Moore’s Law trajectory. So why is that?

As I see it, this is due primarily to a combination of three factors. 1) open source licensing and the open source community, 2) Internet-driven collaboration, and 3) a widespread willingness to share the results of one’s labor freely.

It turns out, this is a very powerful combination! It’s the exact same combination of factors that has resulted in the e-NABLE volunteer community accomplishing so much in such a short period of time, with over 1350 members in just one year of existence.

Recently, Autodesk threw their significant weight into the ring, committing to a significant investment into that open source process by developing an entirely new open source hardware and software platform for 3D printing.

Internet collaboration technologies are empowering individuals everywhere to get directly involved in solving real-world problems and helping to move important technologies forward. This is something the larger companies are going to have to adapt to if they wish to survive in the long term. Companies will need to learn to leverage this model instead of trying to compete with it.

Like any well-managed company, 3D Universe has a clearly defined set of strategic objectives and targets. Unlike most companies, financial profit is NOT the top item on that list. Profit is one factor that plays into our decision-making, but social impact and alignment with our core principles carries more weight in our considerations.

I sure hope that idea continues to catch on. Companies can no longer afford to act or make decisions in isolation from the broader community. With continued population growth combined with Internet and computing technologies, everything has become too connected for that to work any longer.  It’s amazing how many companies still have profit as their number one objective without realizing how that leads to bad decision-making. When we focus too much on profit, at the exclusion of everything “outside” of the company, our view is way too narrow and disconnected from the broader reality of the situation.

We need to change our definition of success. Real success isn’t measured by a bank balance. It’s measured in terms of the impact we have on those around us. It’s measured in terms of our peace of mind when we go to bed at night and the enthusiasm with which we greet each day.

If we consider the model of Maslow’s Hierarchy of Human Needs, we can view this shift as moving beyond the more basic physiological and safety needs, to focus more on matters of self-actualization (which can apply to companies as well as individuals).


Interestingly, it seems there is a growing number of people who share this view and therefore wish to do business with companies who operate on this basis. As a result, financial goals can easily be achieved, even without that being the primary focus.

There is a strong current rapidly developing through Internet-driven collaboration and sharing. Companies who try to fight against this current are going to lose. Those who learn to ride the current will find things progressing quite rapidly!


  1. Well said! I love the connection to Maslow’s Hierarchy. If companies don’t take into consideration the needs of their customers and employees, then they may wake up one day to find out that somebody is giving away what they are trying to sell. Then it may be too late to benefit from the understanding that open source and profitability are linked.

  2. This is a great piece, and is definitely the type of business model that my company Gyrobot Ltd is proud to follow.

    Since I started giving away designs freely, many more paid offers of work have come into my inbox. Maybe it’s just extra exposure, or maybe it’s customers who consider opensource and a bit of philanthropy an important factor when choosing company X over company Y.

  3. Dear Sirs,

    we are the company who have the foundation to doing & share to giving prosthetic & orthotic unit to disability person.till to day we have doing about more than two thousand units for more than 20 province in Indonesia.
    aspecially for upper limb ( hand ), we are doing the passive one.
    Please advise what can we do to gate your help and doing better for the future with 3D printing.
    Should there have any question, please do not hesitate to contact us.

    thanks & best regards,

    Founder of Kasih Tuna Daksa Foundation

    • Hi, Liliani.

      Thanks for reaching out. The work I do producing 3D printed prosthetic devices is through a volunteer community called e-NABLE (http://enablingthefuture.org). We have over 1350 volunteers around the world, so we should explore how our organizations can work together!

      To get the process started, please fill out e-NABLE’s information gathering form here: http://goo.gl/lW1uX6

      Most of e-NABLE’s operations take place via a Google+ community, which you can join here: https://plus.google.com/communities/102497715636887179986

      I would suggest you join the community and post a message introducing your organization. I’m sure you’ll find many people willing to help our organizations work together to help more people!

      Best regards,
      Jeremy Simon
      3D Universe

Comments are closed.