A disruptive technology or disruptive innovation is an innovation that helps create a new market and value network, and eventually goes on to disrupt an existing market and value network (over a few years or decades), displacing an earlier technology there.
3D printing is not terribly new and has been around a few years, but putting this technology into the hands of kids IS groundbreaking and could lead to all kinds of unexpected consequences. The prototype Origo 3D printer is made for children 10 and up to design objects on a computer and print them out in 3D to play with. Yes, kids designing and creating their own custom made toys. I have always preferred the random box of legos to the highly designed play sets they make these days. With a random box of shapes and colors, you can endlessly create all kinds of lego toys to play with. The only limit is your imagination. In that same spirit, this 3D printer can free kids minds even further to create literally anything they can think of. They could even make toys for friends. Technologically, the ability to design and create your own objects is very cool, but what kind of disruption could this cause for the toy industry?
Oh Barbie and GI Joe don’t have to worry quite yet, but for how long? Per the definition, disruptive technology can take decades, so how much better do you think the technology will be in 20 years? This isn’t just a disruptive technology for the toy industry but as larger, and even more sophisticated versions of 3D printing are made for adults, it could be disruptive to a large sector of manufacturing. How many companies will be savvy enough to make the transition to selling the designs for objects rather than the objects themselves? How many entrepreneurs will get there first, selling their own versions of products directly to customers on the Internet?