In the last few years we’ve seen a lot of media hype about 3D printing as the next industrial revolution – taking over all manufacturing as we know it. Expectations are now so high that anything short of the entire world running off 3D printers will be seen as a failure of the entire technology. But while 3D printing does represent a revolution, how it will revolutionize manufacturing and what role it will play in business requires a deeper look at the possibilities and impacts.
We often seek to explain the world in the simplest terms for the masses to understand our point. But the view of 3D printing replacing traditional manufacturing is a narrow assessment of the technology and the benefits it can bring. It misses the complexity of modern manufacturing and an understanding of scale and mass production methods of certain goods that 3D printing may never match. And it is driven by anecdotal evidence where one technology replaced another in the past to the point that this is assumed to be the rule. But just because transistors destroyed the vacuum tube industry, CDs replaced cassette tapes and DVRs replaced VHS effectively ending the production of the components of those industries does not mean that 3D printing will do the same for all industries
While there may be certain industries that disappear, others will not only continue to exist but through the use of 3D printing and additive manufacturing tooling will incorporate additive manufacturing’s benefits, enhance its value added aspects and actually allow that industry to grow in terms of profitability through speed to market, higher degrees of innovation and reduction of costs. In this broader view of the technology it is important to note what it will do as well as what it won’t do to manufacturing:
3D Printing Will:
- Increase speed to market of new products through reduction in prototyping costs.
- Allow a higher degree of product customization with benefits of 3D printed tooling not previously possible with traditional tooling costs.
- Provide higher added product value at an affordable price point.
- Facilitate a much more efficient, albeit disruptive, change in supply chain as distribution of certain components return to being locally produced at an acceptable cost.
- Drive innovation within a product line or entire industry to improve consumer choice.
- Become the sole or predominant means of production. Certain things cannot possibly – or in some cases practically – be printed. Denim will still be woven and clothes hangers will still be produced at a higher rate of speed that 3D printing may never achieve.
- Turn every home into a 3D printing factory. Star Trek replicators are fun to imagine but the material required to produce “everything” would take up the whole house not to mention the expertise needed to run the printer.
3D printing is both a destructive and a disruptive technology just as the introduction of the PC was just a few decades ago. But it is best seen as a tool, a driver and an engine for innovation of certain aspects of business and production that will become part of the way we produce things and not as the end all and be all in itself.
IC3D has over fifteen years of combined experience to help you with your latest project or production to bring your design to life and help provide a working solution for all your enterprise needs. From our in house base of large format printers developed by IC3D and specifically designed to reduce costs IC3D is a 3D printing service bureau, consumables supplier and partner in your project from concept to prototyping to completion.
IC3D also produces its own line of 3D filament in ABS, PLA and Nylon and we don’t use recycled material. Our filament is 100% virgin material that extruded in house in Ohio using strict production standards. And all IC3D material is backed by a 100% satisfaction guarantee.
IC3Ds superior line of consumables alongside our service bureau capabilities and our rapid prototyping services using our technology assure that you can create and produce your next project with confidence in both quality and speed.
Check out our line of materials online, or, if you’re looking for consulting, enterprise solutions or design needs, and our staff will be happy to help guide you to the solutions you need.