MIT published forecasts projecting 3D printing industry growth to reach $4.4 billion by 2020, rapidly increasing from $1 billion in 2014. A major breakthrough that is expected to impact all companies relates to the three-dimensional printing industry capability to disrupt economies of scale which has always given a distinct competitive advantage to large, well funded entreprises over smaller organizations with limited budgets. The 3D printing industry makes it as cost-effective to make one item as to produce a large number of those items.
Companies or individuals interested in using this technology can identify a blueprint on the computer and modify it to the shape and color of their choice, then simply press print. A product is built by adding material generated via a nozzle or by adding to a piece of plastic, layer by layer. Smaller items can be produced with a 3D printer in a small office space. Larger items require larger printers and more room to operate.
Workspace for a 3D printer also needs room for a chiller. Since the printer gets hot and has to be cooled down to prevent damage to the machine, these two pieces of equipment work hand in hand. North Slope Chillers goes into detail about how to select the chiller to meet your needs.
Below are three ways 3D printing will change the business landscape:
- Supply chain costs will be significantly reduced.
There will be major cost reductions in transportation and manufacturing related to shifts away from what was once cheap offshore production. Actual production will move closer to final customers. MIT studies indicate the savings will be significant, reducing supply chain costs by as much as 90 percent.
It is easy to understand how this happens when you consider no longer having to pay people overseas to manufacture your products, depending instead on a 3D printer to efficiently manufacture small quantities of what you need on demand. Inventory requirements are eliminated in this scenario since the storage of inventory is no longer a variable cost to be considered.
- Individuals and small businesses compete on a more level playing field for small quantities.
Small companies no longer have to compete against the lower pricing that only large companies can offer based on their increased ability to reap the advantages of economies of scale possible from manufacturing larger volumes. While there is a specific volume where economies of scale advantages will start to become a factor; at lower volumes, small businesses can compete on a level playing field in terms of cost and pricing.
- Product creators enjoy lower startup costs.
The barrier to entry into the world of invention and new product creation is lower as the result of 3D printing. 3DPrinterPrices reports that startup and testing costs that once prohibited many companies with limited funding from entering the marketplace with innovative new products have been substantially decreased or eliminated in some cases. This opens the doors to most entrepreneurs with a new idea.
Business leaders around the world are comparing 3D printing with other major technological breakthroughs that have reshaped business in the past. The industrial revolution that began in the latter part of the eighteenth century promoted mass production as the answer for moving the business landscape forward and cheaply producing enough goods to match consumer demand. Now, 3D printing is positioned to do just the opposite, by placing the technology necessary in the hands of both small and large companies and encouraging on demand production.
Every industry will be impacted. Certain industries like the automotive industry have a head start, seeing the virtues of 3D printing early on. All industries will be forced to adapt and can benefit accordingly. Construction, healthcare, education, retail, high tech, optics and the robotics industry are already embracing 3D printing.