Can 3D printing trigger the next industrial revolution?
Three-dimensional printing has the potential to trigger the next industrial revolution. If the findings of Reuters analyst James Shaft are taken into consideration, 3D printing, also known as additive manufacturing, can be the sole reason for the demise of assembly line and supply chain manufacturing in years to come.
How 3D printing works?
3D printing, as we all know, is a process in which highly customizable objects are literally sprayed to existence by an object that is very much similar to a normal ink jet printer. Its first stage is a computer assistive design that is followed by its production via the 3D printer. It’s a technique by which a product is developed additively, by adding one layer over the other. This is totally different from subtractive manufacturing that requires tools specific to the type of output desired.
How can it impact the world economy?
With 3D printing, production is not required to be done in factories; it also requires much less labor, so the economies of scale don’t really come into picture. It also has the capacity of upsetting, so to speak, the global supply chain as the elements required to make it work have no relevance in 3D printing. With 3D printers at the helm, emphasis is on research and innovation. All in all, it is fair to say that 3D printing has all the ingredients of turning the way global economy functions on its head.
Who will it impact?
Especially for countries such as the U.S., this may just prove to be a boon, since with 3D printing at the forefront, the country can afford to bring manufacturing back within its shores. On the contrary, countries such as Germany, Japan and most certainly China won’t like this shift to happen as their economies are based on monolithic manufacturing. The requirement to transfer manufacturing to places like Stuttgart or Shanghai after the development of the initial design in Los Angeles for consumers in Columbus will no longer be needed, simply because manufacturing happens right where the design is created.
Only time will tell whether 3D printing can trigger such a massive change in the world economic scene. However, cost, customization, and capital use advantage that it brings will surely work in its favor to let such a transition to happen.
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