Three Peaks - Geek Style
Three Peaks - Geek Style

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Three Peaks - Geek Style


‘…then you better start swimmin' Or you'll sink like a stone For the times they are a-changin' â€" Bob Dylan 

Bob Dylan wrote those words in 1964 and they are just as relevant half a century on. In that same year Gene Roddenberry drafted his proposal for a television, science fiction series that would become Star Trek. “Set phasers to stunning”, I hear you all say. What was common to both was a sense of progress. When Kirk flipped his communicator and spoke wirelessly no one really believed it possible and yet today we are ruled by that exact device, the flip seems to have disappeared though. There are a number of examples of this from the show though some aspects still remain firmly science fiction. Warp speed, the ability to be transported instantaneously from one location to another, the cloaking device (though I suspect Richie McCaw may know something about this); and, to a certain extent, the replicator. 

While the replicator may seem an unlikely household appliance it does bear some resemblance to the rapidly emerging technology of 3D printing or Additive Manufacturing. The basic premise is that an electronic model is brought to life by the process of successive layers of a material. The technology is not new, in fact it seems to have been around since the 1980s but is only now becoming affordable and industrially viable. Current commercial uses are constantly expanding, but the major use seems to be in design modelling. 3D printers have also been used to create models from foetus ultrasounds, food items have been created, and prosthetics for mine explosion victims. 

So what, if any, will be the impact of this technology on insurance? The one obvious possibility is the ‘printing’ of spares. The biggest expense for insurers is the cost of vehicle repairs. Very little panel beating is done by repairers, parts are generally removed and replaced, all that remains to be done is matching the paint. The cost of these parts is where the expense comes in, there is also the added cost of transporting the parts, as well as costs involved in hired vehicles due to the delay in receiving these parts. All these expenses are borne by the insurer and handed on to the policyholder. The existing process also has a fairly large carbon footprint. Imagine if a repairer could simply access the spec of the part from a manufacturer’s website and print it in the workshop. The only hold-up on repairs would be waiting around for the paint to dry. The cost savings to the industry would be of galactic proportion. 

How soon this will happen is anyone’s guess. Perhaps the technology will be surpassed by something even more remarkable. Perhaps, one day, there will be no need for personal transportation. There is also bound to be debate around the technology and its dangers, possibly along the same lines as those surrounding the politics of nano-technology. Additional expenses may be incurred in order to get manufacturers licences. The prospect is not without possible negatives but surely this is somewhere we should boldly go. 

Author: Robin Ackerman

Three Peaks Insurance Brokers


Three Peaks - Geek Style

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