Economists and theorists of innovation such as Jeremy Rifkin, Yochai Benkler, Michel Bauwens, and several others have concluded that the Third Industrial Revolution is at hand.
Often the discussion around this topic refers to emerging new technologies such as clever software, novel materials, nanotechnology, more dexterous robots and new processes such as three-dimensional printing or the new wave of rapid manufacturing developed by the open source/hardware community, and the associated distributed ways of organising design and production.
3D printing has been around for a few decades already. In that sense, the technology is nothing new. What is different now is the method in which 3D printers and related software are developed and in some cases even manufactured: the open source/peer production model.
In the old world (dinosaur age in software development), the proprietary approach was dominant, companies held their innovations inside and sold binaries to customers. The same with hardware, e.g., printers. In software business the change has been in motion since the 1990?s, most notably through the birth and advancement of of software like Linux and Apache. Open Source software has taken a stronger foothold in business and systems world wide. The advancement of Linux is in Benkler’s words an example of a new kind of production, commons-based peer production and the more general opening of innovation processes has been referred to as open innovation.