This article points out that the file sharing of Napster was not what caused the disruption in the music industry, but the lowering of the barriers to entry. The number of participants in the marketplace increased exponentially, which was simply an increase in competition, “not a harbinger of doom for an industry.” File sharing with 3D printing will lead to new innovation, impacting manufacturing, shipping, retail and, any and all closely related industries.
When free is an option for all consumer goods it will have a greater disruptive impact than anything since, at least, the industrial revolution.
The social implications are hard to determine though. Could individuals evolve beyond the need for material possessions? Will poverty and famine be eliminated as individuals can simply print that which they desire? Click the link below for the full article.