Since its inception by Charles Hull in 1983, there has been an exponential surge in the Global 3D printing community. Organizations using 3D printing devices are now looking towards lighter parts, creating novel channels for heat conductivity, leading to the exploration of new material mechanical properties. The evolution of 3D printing is enhancing the manufacturing world, creating new job opportunities, and increasing innovation globally. In a nutshell, the technology is promoting efficiency, sustainability, and innovation.
Professionals and industrial experts think quite alike about the seismic changes that 3D printing will bring into the manufacturing industry at large. The very first of them being the true advent of Rapid Prototyping. With recent advancements in automation coupled with the entry of global distribution companies like UPS, there has been a drastic reduction in the design cycles for some products. Products are reaching the market quicker, and firms are having significant cost and time savings in the process. The technology is helping in true A/B market testing of products and rapid design iterations. Ford, for example, is 3D-printing molds in 4 days at $4,000, which earlier used to take about six months. The change that 3D printing is bringing in economies even when the production volumes are small. With no setup costs, production runs on volume even less than 1,000 are a cost-effective alternative for many companies.
Read the report published by Inkwood Research on “GLOBAL 3D PRINTING MARKET“
The benefit that 3D printing brings along is the ability of mass customization. 3D printing enables the production of large volumes with each of them being a customized one. Invisalign is now a mammoth business venture by producing teeth aligning devices using 3D printing that fully customizes every single device. 3D printing allows companies to enjoy the advantages of having virtual inventories. It allows firms to produce inventories whenever they need them, thus dramatically reducing the capital blocked in inventory and bringing down storage costs to almost zero. It fundamentally changes how companies view the end of a product’s life. With 3D production, companies can produce parts for service products even of its older models, if needed. Moreover, 3D printing is truly giving shape and definition to the renaissance of product innovation. The low entry barriers and ability to enable objects which are radically more complex and useful are initiating discoveries in product innovation. GE, for example, is using 3D printing to redesign its fuel injection system for LEAP jet engines, bringing down parts from 21 to 1 and incorporating shapes that are by far impossible to manufacture using traditional methods, resulting in an astronomical increase in efficiency.
As firms become acclimatized with 3D printing, AI, automation and big data, it will increase the demand for advanced machines to push manufacturing to greater levels. With customized designs, distributed supply chains and localized manufacturing set to become the order of the day in the times to come, 3D printing will enable companies to make products to satisfy the complex and starkly different needs of customers. Companies are using advanced technologies at a rapid pace and striving to be more accessible than ever before. 3D printing has been with a lot of risks. However, a path to success is now visible with the advancements of technology. It is up to companies to adopt the technology and drive the ball forward since 3D printing is the future of manufacturing.
Author: Pratik Patra
Pratik is a Writer, Artist, and Technocrat from India. He is an engineer from IIT Bombay and is currently pursuing his MBA from XIMB.