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To say that 3D printing is changing our world, is an understatement. Today, you can purchase 3D-printed shoes, 3D-printed jewelry, 3D-printed pens, and even 3D-printed vehicles.

The automotive industry is using 3D printing to produce spare parts and develop prototypes for new car models. GE and Ford have already touted their early success in 3D printing. One can only imagine the testing that is going on behind their closed doors.

Airplane manufacturers are using 3D printing for parts. In the healthcare and life sciences industries, 3D printing is being used for medication, hearing aids, implants, prosthesis and even human skin for burn victims. Invisalign has built a multi-million dollar business producing teeth alignment devices using 3D printing to completely customize every single device for each patient.

Wholesale distributors are providing valued –added services like printing non-stock parts in-house or giving their customers a 3D printer to and sell them the specs so they can print parts in-house, on demand.

And that is just the beginning. The global market for 3D printing is projected to have significant impact across many industries with economic implications of up to $550 billion a year by 2025.

In the industrial market, 3D printing is primed for long-term growth that will impact products and supply chains. Leaders across all industries should be looking at 3D printing as an emerging technology and a possible disruption to their current business models.

While some think that 3D printing is only a niche technology, companies are aggressively looking to leverage the technology for cost savings, for example, shifting physical inventory to virtual inventory, which allows them to generate parts on-demand when and where they need them.

3D printing is putting consumers in charge of the supply chain—and most companies are not ready. The technology is a true game changer for the manufacturing industry. It should be a warning sign for companies that if they don’t innovate their supply chains, they may become irrelevant as consumers have more control of the production of their own products.

Today, consumers are making their purchase decisions based on how quickly they will receive the product. In order to stay competitive in the marketplace, companies are turning to 3D printing to create and deliver their products quicker. 3D printing is innovating with that model and putting consumers in the driver’s seat.

The pace of adoption continues to accelerate.  As costs continue to drop and quality rises, it will be impossible not to incorporate a 3D printing strategy into existing business models.

Think about how your organization can leverage 3D printing to reduce manufacturing lead times, bring new designs to market quickly, meet your customer’s demands and reduce inventory carrying costs. What was once a technology of your imagine has been made possible with 3D technology. Is your organization ready?

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