The thing we are learning about business, as we continue accelerating forward is, we can try to do it alone, but we won't be as successful or innovative. We know collaboration brings us a competitive edge, the advantage of diverse perspectives, and the ability to exact change across a lot of mediums at one time. This is the future of big business, additive manufacturing, and everything in between.

Inspiration, first

Close to 30-years ago now, Chris Casteel, of Anew Life, was about to experience a life altering accident. His motorcycle was forced into a curb by distracted drivers, and luckily he survived. Unfortunately, Casteel had to give up his left leg as a result of the damage he suffered from the accident. But he didn't let that slow him down. He went on to graduate with a Master's of Science in Orthotics and Prosthetics and is now collaborating with BASF and Essentium to bring revolutionary 3D-printed sockets to life. This is how collaboration changes lives, and how it is already changing business.

Following this collaboration model, BASF and Essentium? are forging a new path, not only with their endeavors, but with their commitment to partnerships that are innovative in and of themselves. Each company's portfolio speaks for itself, but I did dig in quite a bit, to get more of the nitty gritty details, because I know this is the tipping year in additive manufacturing, which will change the way the world does business

The eye of the innovation storm

In the eye of this incredibly innovative storm is Blake Teipel, President and Co-Founder of Essentium, and past Engineer at John Deere and Caterpillar. But "back then" Teipel couldn't jump into 3d custom machining because it was too cost prohibitive.  So he went back to grad school on the material science side to help make 3d printing stronger. BASF was interested in functional 3d printing, to be additive, and scale additive manufacturing, and a partnership of massive proportions was born. I talk a lot about 3d everything so, instead, I want to talk about the genius level collaboration taking place between big business, entrepreneurs, and experts. Through processes such as advancing supply chains and manufacturing opportunities, and  providing advanced manufacturing solutions, the reasons we haven't moved forward in the past, are quickly dissipating.

Welcome to the Revolution

According to BASF, "We are facing the next industrial revolution. The additive manufacturing industry is going to expand rapidly over the next few years--globally at 27% annual growth rate, from nearly $11 billion to $26.7 billion in sales by 2019, according to IDC (International Data Corp.)." When we collaborate, we can effect change across all industries. We can come up with widespread solutions and iterate that knowledge to progress faster. The machine manufacturers, the designers of the end product, and every person involved in between needs to be a part of the collaborative process as we enter this industrial revolution. This is how movement in industry happens. Everyone has to be on board, and I appreciated hearing this viewpoint from others, who are in the industry, working towards moving the needle. 

Bringing In Even More Experts

In the spirit of this article on collaboration, I went to every source on this, which means I also kicked around ideas with Oleksandra Korotchuk, a New Market Development Scout at BASF. She explained how their efforts to identify megatrends is also changing how they do business, in a big way. 

Megatrend: Systematic problem or activity in a society that creates a sustainable opportunity to be solved.

Example: Aging population.

Example Project: Redefining the wheelchair.

At BASF, they have a group that is shielded from the day-to-day problems of the business per se. Instead, the job of this group is to be able to take a broader look, to see new market development, to identify megatrends, and potential problems within those megatrends, with the end goal of  making the livelihood and quality of life better for consumers reached.

3d printing is not a mega trend. It's a solution. Across every industry. Essentium, with BASF and Casteel at Anew - manufacturer + material supplier + consumer - tackled the problem from every angle, changed the pain points, identified better materials, extended the life of the prosthetic, and made it so much better. This is one example. The more collaborative efforts we see, the more opportunities that will be created for application for innovation.

Take this with you: Utilize partnerships to do more, bigger things.