If we told you ten years ago that you would be able to print machine parts out of your printer, would you have believed us? Probably not; yet, that’s just how far technology has progressed in the past decade. All types of industries, particularly manufacturing, have found that 3D printing is a great alternative to traditional manufacturing processes.
Before 3D printing became possible, there was a ton of hype surrounding it. People thought it would be a game-changing innovation. Yet, some skeptics (who we like to call negative Nancys) and falling stock prices may give people the wrong idea about 3D printing. There are plenty of reasons to be excited about 3D printing, especially in the form of successful implementation into finished products. 3D-printed car parts are being used in the manufacturing of vehicles. While 3D printing may have once been viable only as a prototype printer, parts that are being produced in this way are more than capable of being used in end products.
Here are some statistics from a PwC study concerning the implementation speed of 3D printing:
- 31.4 percent of manufacturers are using 3D printing for prototyping, 6.6 are using it for end-product production, and 13.2 percent are using it for both; all three of these figures are considerably higher than they were in 2014.
- 17.4 percent are experimenting with 3D printing - down from 2014, when 28.9 percent claimed to be experimenting with 3D printing.
- 42 percent of manufacturers feel that 3D printing will be used in high-volume production within the next 3-5 years.
Granted, it’s important to take into consideration the repercussions that mass-producing 3D printing machines will have on the manufacturing industry. While the costs of 3D-printed goods are dramatically lower, will this disrupt the status-quo of how traditional supply chains work?
Furthermore, there is some concern over how 3D printing will affect intellectual property. As the demand for 3D printing technology increases, the costs will decrease, and the results of this innovation will become more apparent. Then there’s the problem of meeting the required quality and retaining enough speed to efficiently make use of the 3D printing technology. These uncertainties are why organizations are slowly moving toward implementing 3D printing, rather than jumping the gun and diving right in.
Whether or not 3D printing becomes a major part of the manufacturing environment may be up for debate, but it’s a great example of how innovative technology solutions can directly affect a businesses’s bottom line. By efficiently managing your companies technology solutions, you can achieve the best return on investment for them. However, just like a manufacturer implementing 3D printing, your business needs to carefully consider how implementing new solutions will affect your current operations.
Is 3D printing something your business might use? Let us know in the comments below.