As the world progresses and continues to turn both physically and metaphorically, we will continue to witness a gush in the number of users opting to use 3D printing or rapid prototyping. 3D printing has in fact touched on almost all sectors, whether education, medical, engineering, research and many others. This is only natural considering the benefits and up sides to 3D printing, especially when producing in bulk rather than individually. Mass production is a huge challenge under 3D printing but through the implementation of large-scale printing mixed with technology that is progressing rapidly in order to produce parts, soon enough we will see that rapid prototyping services have outrun traditional manufacturing methods on a long haul.
There is already hardly any industry which has not been affected by 3D printing, the impact is likely to double if not triple in coming years. The economy will definitely feel the brunt of this, which is likely to have a domino effect. Every sector is likely to feel positive aftershocks of this evolving technology, we might just look back a decade from now, wondering how we lived in a pre 3D world where 3D printing wasn’t the norm in all sectors across the board. Among these industries, none of the industries will be as hard hit as mass manufacturing.
There is no denying that manufacturing done today cannot compare to manufacturing that was done a mere 5-10 years back, let alone 50-100 years back. There are constant changes that manufacturing goes through, irrelevant of which country or part of world we look at. Without manufacturing, none of our goods would reach us, making it impossible for us to continue life on Earth! That is the level at which manufacturing effects our lives. The question now is, how fast will 3D printing alter mass manufacturing? Furthermore, which industries are likely to be impacted the greatest from 3D printing?
Rendering to data given from CCS Insights, close to 158,000 3D printers have been sold in the global market just in 2014 alone. It has been projected that by 2018, the number will shoot up to a whopping 845,000! Such a growth could exemplify a sway from the $1.6 billion revenue up to $4.8 billion in revenue. Around 49 percent of the total global revenue will originate from North America and 3D printers will most likely become a growing ‘ordinary’ in both the business world and the private sectors. These two sectors play huge roles in holding each other up, especially as new players continue to enter the manufacturing world as entrepreneurs.
Since the arrival of 3D printers in the marketplace, it’s become more and more evident that an impact will be felt across the board. The question many ask is where and how will this be felt?
Below are a few examples and projections of how 3D printing will overlap and interconnect with contemporary manufacturing:
Food: This probably sounds crazy and farfetched, 3D printing and the food industry?! Let’s not consider this a possibility now, but down the line, 3D printing food may just become a possibility! It’s definitely a bizarre claim and may take years of customer education and technical progressions in order to be perfected, but the fact remains that such a thing is a conceivable application. This simply goes to show how volatile 3D printing could prove to be in the contemporary marketplace.
Healthcare: Many have argued that probably no industry has much prospective in comparison to the healthcare industry. There are already many successes from 3D printing that are being used in the medical industry, from surgical models, prosthetic devices to other products that patients can benefit from at large scales. Nevertheless, customers still need to be educated regarding this front. Not to mention, ethical issues that have been raised, which need to be addressed before 3D printing can completely be used in contemporary healthcare, the potential remains.
Replacement parts: One of the most liked things about 3D printing is the fact that the technology allows you the option of printing custom designs. This is tremendously valuable in replacing parts for present products. From the army printing custom parts for their transport or gear to small and big businesses alike being able to quickly fix tiny parts in a machine, to be able to quickly manufacture replacement parts is a definite plus.
Lower impact: Environmentally aware people are enthusiastic regarding the positive impacts of 3D printing on the environment. Traditional manufacturing is usually wasteful and dirty, 3D printing on the other hand is not only clean but precise. 3D printing leads to a smaller number of wasted materials, fewer products remaining unsold, the likelihood of lengthier life spans and less product transport.
It’s hard to forecast the precise impact 3D printing will bring forth on mass manufacturing. However, there can be no denying that 3D printing will prove to be a significant technology that is used in the market in the impending years. While a great host of industries will see positive changes, very few will experience as many drastic changes and fruitions as manufacturing.
Retail: There’s a strong yearning amongst contemporary shoppers to customize or modify the products they buy. Researchers have stated that in coming years, 3D printing will most likely counter the traditional model of mass-manufacturing model. The new manufacturer is composed for small or one-off productions, contingent on which form of 3D printing technology will be used. The result will probably be a greater amount of customization in the commodities and products we choose to purchase. The future of 3D printing and manufacturing remain open for development.
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