If you spend any time reading about technology trends, you’ve likely seen your fair share of 3D printing stories. It’s a quickly growing segment that many are predicting could be truly disruptive for many industries. Why?
Printing for the longest time has been reserved to flat sheets of paper. Its complexities stopped at two-sided and color copies. 3D printing facilitates the stacking of materials to form any shape or size.
It seems like sci-fi, where you press a button and a new chair or bowl materializes. It’s not magic, it’s simply software that holds the virtual blueprint for whatever item needs made. It’s not widely used yet, but the following reasons are why we will be seeing a lot more 3D printing in the future.
3D Printing Creates Efficiencies
Manufacturing is expensive. The United States has long been moving away from manufacturing, and moving it overseas to take advantage of cheaper materials and labor.
But, the beauty of 3D printing is that the manufacturing can happen right at home. In theory, consumers can have their own personal printers in their homes; needing only to purchase printing materials and the software to build products.
This cuts out shipping costs for businesses and cuts down on the time to purchase for consumers. 3D printing can make the buying process more efficient on both sides of the transaction.
It Gives Scalable Efficiency For Business
With 3D printers’ potential of being at the point of purchase—and point of consumption—businesses will be able to sell their “good” by transmitting code, rather than shipping it across the state or country.
Typically, the more a company sells, the more the total variable costs increase because of overhead like shipping. However, the increased cost of transmitting 1,000,000 instructions for 3D printing is negligible compared to 10,000 or even 100.
Total variable costs don’t rise as sales grow, allowing businesses to scale faster and to wider regions. When 3D printing becomes a mature and viable option, multiple barriers to business growth will be removed.
It’s Highly Customizable
This is where 3D printing really becomes disruptive. With some restrictions, one 3D printer can produce anything. It could make you a new spoon. A new toothbrush. Or even a new hand.
With the right software (and raw materials) a 3D printer can meet all of a household’s needs without having to switch out machine parts or do anything complicated.
Traditional manufacturing requires standardization to keep costs as low as possible. 3D printing opens up the possibility to create highly customized and personalized goods without huge additional costs.
3D Printing Helps Fuel Innovation
While 3D printing itself will likely disrupt numerous industries for the reasons given above, it will likely lead to further innovation through its very existence. Innovators can use 3D printing to quickly and cheaply produce prototypes.
The time and cost savings can be used by entrepreneurs to focus on other techniques for business growth to keep driving their own technology further. It’s also a tool that can be used for teaching purposed, to create future industry leaders.
Also, the product development processes tend to be much more efficient since prototypes will be developed in a timely manner.
The healthcare industry can use it to study body parts without needing a physical patient. Other industries can tap into that teaching potential as well and take advantage of its cheap and quick nature.