Many people don’t realize it but the impacts of 3D printing are potentially far reaching enough to be considered the ‘Next Industrial Revolution’! It’s impacts will mostly be felt on the supply chain and manufacturing segments of a business. Well how you ask?
- First, mass customization = cheaper equipment costs and faster layover time (elimination). This means new equipment does not need to be bought when a new design is manufactured.
- Second, automation. Programmability will enable 3D printing to take over many of steps in the supply chain such as manufacturing, assembly, packaging and eventually shipping.
- Third, elimination of inventory. All inventory costs are gone. 3D printing is the definition of made-to-order, and because of its customizability it is infinitely flexible.
- Fourth, necessity of outsourcing to suppliers will be decreased and possibly eliminated. Supplies and equipment can and will be 3D printed on a whim.
- Fifth, an ability for entrepreneurial innovation. People are able to design and create their ideas immediately and for a small cost. Ex: Prototypes, Art projects.
- Sixth, the materials created and used are sure to be healthy for big blue herself, Earth. In time, regulations and rules on the carbon impacts of machines and materials will be developed. The effects of 3D printing on pollution are sure to be slim to none.
The field is so new that it is just waiting to be revolutionized.