Agreed. The use of cryptocurrency seems overly risky and limiting. It seems like they could still pay people electronically, while avoiding building out any infrastructure. I do, however, love the environmental mission of the project. Any idea as to the quantity of plastic removed and it’s impact relative to the size of the Great Pacific Garbage Patch (a floating island of trash the size of Texas)? For more on the Great Pacific Garbage Patch look here: https://www.nationalgeographic.org/encyclopedia/great-pacific-garbage-patch/
It would be interesting to see the cost breakdown of 3d printed concrete parts vs poured concrete parts, specifically for the simple geometries that we find in everyday cities. I would speculate that poured concrete is cheaper for simple geometries. However, I would also argue that if we want to make cities more beautiful, and therefore create places that people sincerely care about, 3D printed buildings would allow complex geometries and integration of materials (for example you see them laying the wire very precisely) into design. Imagine for example, buildings that literally had spaces for plants built into their exterior, so that we no longer have just green roofs, but also green siding. For this reason, I believe that 3D printing of buildings is best suited to a niche market of high-end architecture.
Having worked in aircraft design both as a stress engineer (one who predicts part failures) and as project engineer (one who designs the parts), I would caution against suggesting that Boeing under-utilized the 3D-printing technology. Firstly, all materials that go into aircraft have to conform to certain standards (typically an ASTM standard) for physical properties, such as stiffness and strength. Certain parts require stricter standards than others depending on the criticality of the part –think with 99% confidence that the part has a strength of XYZ. These standards are not well known yet for 3D printed materials, making modeling their failures more challenging. This means that certifying them too is more challenging. This leads to the last point about regulation and general conservatism in the aerospace industry. Any deviation from FAA regulations requires working with them to come up with special allowances for certification –this is an arduous process that must be taken on early in the design process. Finally, from the company’s perspective, it’s always better to use parts that share commonality across aircraft in your manufacturing process as you know two things: one, they have been demonstrated to work on other aircraft and two, they are cheaper to build (the suppliers are already set up and you can achieve economies of scale). Hope this provides a bottoms up view of aircraft design and 3d printing! Very exciting post!
The timing of this post could not be more appropriate given this evening’s LEAD case on Rakuten. If the company really wants to boost innovation, studies show that a diversity of perspectives increase the likelihood that innovation occurs. Thus, to the extent that on can manufacture innovation, management should bring in more global talent. For this reason, I also agree that they should pursue a similar strategy to Rakuten and drive “Englishnization” across the business. One question that arises for me out of this case is how important is the open innovation to driving innovation at Sony? Why not just grow through inorganic growth (albeit they should focus on companies within their scope of expertise ie not real-estate)?
I agree with your skepticism of the scalability of envision’s utility management system. While in an ideal world the founder’s hope for an “energy system in the future [that] will connect billions of power plants, photovoltaic panels, energy storage battery, charger networks, and energy-consuming equipment, forming an actual super brain” would be possible, I believe the computing costs–in terms of actual hardware and physical dollars–for such a system would be astronomical. For this reason, I believe that Envision should focus its near term goal on collecting data from IoT products to better forecast demand.