3D Printing: The Future Norm for Manufacturers?

3D printing is a game changing technology that seems almost magical. As the technology becomes more sophisticated and more affordable, 3D printers are becoming more prolific. Companies such as Ford are using 3D printing to save time and money when creating prototypes. A Chinese company has printed a house.  3D printing is being used to make advances in the medical field as well.

Is there anything 3D printing cannot do? And how will it change the manufacturing industry? Is 3D printing a threat to the current industry, or a powerful new tool?

The Benefits of 3D Printing

3D printing is already changing the world, and it has the potential to do even more. Some benefits of 3D printing include:

·         Use for rapid prototyping, reducing the amount of time between designing something and testing it out.

·         Reduction in shipping and storage costs. Instead of outsourcing to other countries for cheap labor, companies and customers can use 3D printing to create products much closer to home.  3D printing also makes it easier to create products on an as-needed basis, so you don’t wind up with excess that needs to be stored.

·         It’s faster than traditional methods of manufacturing many products.

·         It can reduce labor costs.

·         It can create stronger, more durable materials with fewer moving parts and pieces.

The Limits of 3D Printing

Don’t throw out your traditional manufacturing methods just yet. 3D printing is still a new technology, and while it may seem magical—it isn’t. Just like any other technology, 3D printing has limits. Consider the following limits of 3D printing:

·         3D printers can only manufacture products out of certain materials. Traditional manufacturing is still needed for many products made out of materials that aren’t compatible with 3D printers.

·         3D printers make legal oversight difficult. Since 3D printing technology is still in its infancy, the laws regulating it are also underdeveloped. It can be difficult to enforce copyright laws or restrict and oversee the creation of dangerous products such as guns.

·         3D printers are limited by size. For very large items, 3D printing is still very impractical.

The Future

What does all of this mean for you? If you are in the manufacturing industry, you don’t need to panic. While 3D printing will certainly change the way things are made, it won’t replace all traditional methods, and it can be a valuable tool. In a survey of over 100 top manufacturers, it was found that two thirds are already using 3D printing for rapid prototyping, production, and creation of custom parts. Smart manufacturers are incorporating 3D printing to make their process faster and more cost effective. This new technology doesn’t have to eliminate the manufacturing industry—instead it can make it more profitable and efficient than ever.


Posted: 12/16/2014 1:17:22 PM by Global Administrator | with 0 comments
Filed under: chain, logistics, management, supply, 3pl

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