3D Printing Industry Gives Rise To New Possibilities
News from the 3D printing industry | 21 March 2017
In January, Ipsos Business Consulting, the global fact-based consulting firm headquartered in Paris, released a report that discussed potential opportunities 3D printing would bring to production and supply chain, along with a detailed analysis of 3D printing industry in ASEAN, China and India.
3D printing is usually viewed as a complementary technology than a competitive one. Besides the added value brought to traditional manufacturing industry, 3D printing also shines hope on new designs that could not be actualised until now, another way of saying that new and powerful product categories can be developed. Conventional production relies on the principle of “design for manufacturing” while 3D printing allows “manufacturing for design” by enabling low-cost small quantity production, highly personalized products and designs that cannot be completed by traditional manufacturing methods.
The technology will simulate a transformation from “push-supply chain” to “pull-supply chain”. Mass production of generic goods will give way to small-quantity manufacturing of personalized products driven by customer demand.
NO MASS PRODUCTION WITH 3D PRINTING?
It is a well-known fact that 3D printing does not possess a strong characteristic of mass production. However, widespread adoption of AM technology in factories for mass production designs will eventually lead to economies of scale. The default assumption of this trend is the gradual cost decrease of 3D printing the parts. So far main obstacles to keeping costs low are as followed:
Production speed is slower than that of other traditional methods
Limited availability of the right printing materials
Lack of technology adoption and expertise
BROKEN OR INTACT?
TIME FOR LOGISTICS PLAYERS TO MAKE A MOVE
It is rather straightforward that a well-established 3D printer network in the form of incorporate production, customer managed inventory and third party providers will threaten logistics suppliers by reducing warehousing and transportation. So far, companies are spending billions keeping stock to supply products, with the help of logistic suppliers busy around in delivering them to the customer.
For example: Imagine if an engineer could download a part design online, 3D print it locally and then deliver it to a customer living 5km away, then logistics companies will be much less involved in this process.
However, there is a difference in how deeply the company will be impacted. With a subtle shift in perception, logistics companies can stay intact and turn the challenges into an opportunity. Instead of delivering parts and products, they can deliver printing materials. Widespread adoption of 3D printing must be completed with continuous support of printing materials that “feed” the machines. In case of being left behind, some logistic suppliers are taking actions, such as establishing a shared model with 3D printing providers (know more about SP3D’s services here) to prototype parts and deliver them to customers.