Skeptical about all the hype around 3D printing technology? We ain’t seen nothin’ yet, says SearchCIO columnist Harvey Koeppel.
The buzz about 3D printing comes with the usual pontification that occurs every time a new technology passes the novelty stage into the realm where real money can be made. Canalys, a market research firm, predicts the global market for 3D printers and services will grow from $2.5 billion in 2013 to $16.2 billion in 2018, a compound annual growth rate of 45.7%.
Thirty-two years after Charles Hull created the first functional 3D printer, pundits are hailing the “new” technology as everything from disruptive innovation to the next Industrial Revolution. But you won’t find me badmouthing the Johnny-come-lately labels. Personally, I believe the current descriptions vastly underestimate the potential impact of 3D printing technology and its inevitable derivative technologies.
The demand economy is disrupting every sector and causing those in the supply chain and manufacturing fields to be more innovative than ever before. A decade ago, consumers accepted waiting a week for their product but now with the infusion of companies such as Amazon and Alibaba, 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 their products quicker.
While it is true that manufacturing in certain locations can be low-cost, managing a global logistics network is not, especially as transportation costs continue to rise. That is where the opportunity for 3D printing lies. It is not surprising that analyst firm Canalys anticipates that the worldwide market for 3D printers and its associated materials and services will grow to $20.2 billion by 2019.
Supply chains are about to make a fundamental shift. Where traditionally supply chains followed something like the SCOR model (plan, source, make, deliver, return), 3D printing is innovating that model and putting consumers in the driver’s seat.
It is no secret that all branches of the United States military have been keeping a close eye on 3D printing technology. With the variety of uses across all industries, 3D printing has proven its versatility. Besides the ongoing research in a number of directions, such as 3D printing of replacement bones, battle armor, and vehicle parts, the Navy has already successfully tested ballistic missiles containing 3D printed components.
According to Business Insider, new interest is being shown in the field recently, as many patents on the original technology are expiring, thereby allowing for competition that will result in better quality products at a much lower cost. The first major patents expired in 2009 allowing new printers capable of using metal, wood, and fabric to become more available.
The US military is already investing heavily into research to print uniforms, synthetic skin and food, said ISH Technology analyst Alex Chausovsky.
3D printing is arguably the most interesting, useful and potentially disruptive of the exciting array of technologies gradually becoming available. Its claim to being disruptive is a potent one: Supply chains are predicated on the idea of getting the parts and eventually the finished products from here to there. Indeed, moving things around pervades the process.
3D printing changes that dynamic radically. In some cases, it eliminates the geographical element. The supply chain becomes less of a chain.
3D printing is showing no signs of slowing down. Indeed, it is growing radically. This week, Wohlers Associates released the twenty-first edition of its market assessment. The category had a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 25.9 percent last year. Its worldwide category finished the year with a value of $5.165 billion. The three-year CAGR was 33.8 percent. Perhaps the most impressive figure was the 27-year CAGR: 26.2 percent. That’s a long time to sustain yearly growth of a quarter.
Air New Zealand is getting set to explore the innovative possibilities of 3D printing.
The Auckland-based carrier announced last week that the process could be ideal for cutting manufacturing costs and controlling replacement stock.
For the moment Air New Zealand, in collaboration with the Auckland University of Technology, has settled on producing cocktail trays for its business class passengers.
The technology typically uses a digital process to produce a completely integrated part-combination object as a single finished product by creating ‘layers’ of material.
3D printing has made significant inroads in the enterprise. It offers an efficient way to prototype ideas, generate samples and build products, but it presents new challenges for admins.
3D printing technology is still relatively young, and it comes with a unique set of challenges — along with a hefty price tag. But as prices drop and technology improves, 3D printing opens the door to new opportunities for innovating and conducting business.
Though hobbyists, researchers and manufacturers are all quite optimistic about the 3D printing revolution in the near future, Gartner has proven itself to be one of the most reliable sources out there when it comes to market growth. Their previous prediction that 10% of people in the developed world will own 3D printed products by 2019 is therefore quite promising. But as Gartner’s Research Director Morgan Eldred just revealed at the Gartner Symposium/ITxpo in Dubai, industrial 3D printing is also on the rise. Especially oil and gas companies are set to profit from the technology, it is revealed, and Gartner predicts that ten percent of all O&G companies will partially rely on 3D printing manufacturing by 2019.
Gartner, of course, is the world’s leading information technology research and market advisory company, and are known for their detailed and often correct interpretations of market mechanisms. With 3D printing quickly becoming a crucial innovative technology, it has been the subject of several specialized reports already, of which Impact of 3D Printing for Oil and Gas Industry IT Leaders is the latest. At the Gartner Symposium/ITxpo in Dubai (1-3 March 2016), Morgan Eldred also discusses the opportunities and challenges this technology brings to the oil and gas sector – one of the largest industries in the world.
It was in 1909 when Henry Ford, master of efficiency and standardization, famously said that a “customer can have a car painted any color…so long as it is black.” While the First Industrial Revolution introduced machines to replace hand labor, Ford helped usher in what was ultimately the principle of mass production; using those machines to produce large quantities of standardized products — an era that came to be known as the Second Industrial Revolution.
Today, more than one hundred years since Ford made his industry-defining statement, 3D printing is making its way forward in the mainstream and is allowing anyone to create customized products on demand at affordable prices. No longer do products need to be the same; we can now tailor products to meet our individual needs at little or no extra cost.
The first time intellectual property attorney John Hornick saw a 3D printer at work, he thought it was a joke. It wasn’t until a friend at Johns Hopkins University convinced him that the tech was the real deal that Hornick took a deep dive into how 3D printing machines could change the world.
Hornick’s findings are collected in the new book, 3D Printing Will Rock the World, and below he tells Inverse exactly how most people may own a 3D printer by 2025, no matter how implausible that seems now.