3-D printers fascinate me. The thought of being able to create or duplicate things seemingly out of thin air is intriguing and exciting. It is an innovation idea that we have discussed in this blog several times and will probably discuss again. (See More Innovation in 3D and Innovation and How to Save a Life ) The reason this is such a fascinating area is that this type of printing is part of a tree of innovation.
What is a tree of innovation? There are some innovations so unique that they spawn other innovations. In the tree of 3-D Printing Innovation you have all the ideas and process necessary to get to the point where this new idea could become a reality. These are the roots of the innovation. These would include all the improvements and discoveries in regular printing and the advances in materials development that allow objects to be created.
The concept and the printer itself are the trunk of the innovation. While the trunk is important, it is the branches where the action happens. In 3-D printing you have many uses. For example, there are applications in manufacturing, medicine and the home. Each of these are branches of the innovations that will bear different fruit.
In a recent article (UConn makes 3-D copies of antique instrument parts), we read about combining CT scanning and 3-D printing to create parts for musical instruments. From the trunk of 3-D pinting, innovators were able to branch off and create the fruit of being able to fix and play antique instruments. This is a very exciting application of 3-D printing.
So, look at your innovation. What are its roots? What is its trunk? What are the potential branches? If you do this you may be able to reap the wonderful fruits of new innovations.