Image By The Co-op Group
Key developments in technology have had major impacts on the world of business. Every stage of the business process, from development to delivering products to the customers, has benefited a lot from these. 3D printing is one such advanced technology that has created quite a stir in various industries.
The power of 3D printing has moved well beyond its initial stage and has reached right in the homes of the masses. Today, printing shoes, functional musical instruments, chess sets etc. from the comfort of your home isn't uncommon. In fact, 3D printing is being used to create usable and safe products in bulk for the purpose of selling these to customers.
From rapid industrial prototyping to producing functional human cartilage, 3D printing is all set to become the next industrial revolution. In fact, the 3D printing industry has been estimated to be worth over $21 billion by 2020.
The Fast-Growing Market of 3D Printing
3D printing has penetrated every walk of life. With various companies starting to use this innovative technology in their business processes, 3D printing is about to turn into the next industrial revolution. This has been made possible owing to the expansion of the printable materials. These materials include plastics, ceramics, cement etc. Recent developments have opened up newer avenues by introducing metal 3D printing.
3D printing has found its usage in various industries.
- The aerospace industry has been one of the early adopters of 3D printing. It has facilitated the creation of stronger and long-lasting parts.
- The world of automobile has also witnessed the manufacturing of open-source 3D printed vehicles. The live-printing of 'Strati' is an example.
- 3D printing has also created enormous waves in architecture. From prototypes to 3D printed buildings, 3D architects have been making realities out of fiction.
- Medicine and healthcare have a lot to benefit from 3D printing. From planning surgeries using 3D printed anatomical models to printing useful prosthetics, the benefits are endless. Successful facial transplant surgeries have been made possible by 3D printing.
This technology is increasingly being made accessible by the manufacturing of numerous 3D printers of varying capabilities.
Flaws in Mass Production
Until the invention of 3D printing, the standard method that most businesses resorted to was mass production. So far, mass production has been an efficient way to lower production costs while meeting customer demands. However, some flaws of mass production surfaced with time.
Since the products are made from standardised moulds, the final products are exactly the same. If customers change their preferences, these products will no longer meet their requirements.
With mass production, the products need to be manufactured before they are sold. This means these goods are produced on the basis of prediction of the quantity. As a result, there will be a lot of over-production which could mean wastage.
Customised Products at Affordable Prices
Also known as additive manufacturing, 3D printing is fundamentally different from mass production procedures. Instead of using standardised moulds, 3D printing has paved the way for the production of completely personalised products at lower costs.
With 3D printing, the products are purchased digitally way before their creation. These products are customised according to the customers' demands. Once these products are purchased, the production can take place locally. This has been made possible with the commercialisation of 3D printers. This method eliminates the cost of shipping.
The cost of the entire process is reduced owing to the elimination of wastage and customers get to buy just what they want. Therefore, 3D printing adds more value to users.
As the 3D printing technology begins to go mainstream, demand for the relevant skills has accelerated globally. Did you know that 35% of all the advertisements posted for engineering jobs demand 3D printing skills? That being said, 3D printing has opened up new career paths for millennials.
Some of the 3D printing jobs on the rise include CAD experts, product designers, research and development professionals, 3D modellers, educators and so on.
“We’re starting to hear rumblings about the hiring pickup in 3D printing”, Nima Mirpourian, branch manager at a leading IT staffing company pointed out, “This is a disruptor in the marketplace and because of that, these skills, especially on the development and design side, are super relevant.”
With the various advantages that 3D printing has to offer, it is all set to establish itself into a manufacturing trend of the future.