Today we took delivery of our first 3D Printer - and it could be the best investment we ever make. Or possibly the worst.
One of the things we've learned in Year One of Bromford Lab is it's best to be ultra transparent. People are quite naturally suspicious of new tech and the best way you can disarm them is to demystify it. Let them see it , touch it , feel it.
3D Printers (3DPs) aren't actually new, they were invented in the 1980s. But it's taken 30 years for them to reach the stage where they begin to reach the mass market. It's predicted that 3DP shipments will more than double every year between now and 2018 - by which time they'll be reaching 2.2 million annually.
So why would Bromford be interested?
Well, first of all it's part of the Lab function to get technology out of the hands of geeks and into the hands of customers , communities and colleagues.
Just unboxing it today and doing an initial test got loads of people interested. People had heard of 3DPs - but many had no idea how they actually worked.
Some of the things we heard people say:
"Imagine if I had one on the back of my van - it would save me going back to the depot!"
"Could we have one in a community centre - so people design and make their own products?"
"Could this print keys to meter cupboards?"
Straight away - it's got people thinking. Imagining the possibilities. And that's the point.
And the cost?
About £600 - the price of a high end smartphone. We think that's worth the punt.
You'll hear all about all our 3DP tests (success or failure!) here.
And we'll be doing a LIVE 3DP test as part of our Lightning Talks this week. Don't miss it - live on YouTube. Details below.