Will 3D printing impact global trade?

The Dutch multinational banking and financial services corporation ING did a study last year that predicted that the mass adoption of cheap, high-speed 3D printing could decrease global trade by as much as 25%.

The reason given was that it would cut down production time and reduce the needs for imports.

However, a Harvard Business Review article in 2015 suggested that 3D printing works best in areas where customization is key, for applications such as printing hearing aids and dental implants.

In one of Wolfgang Lehmacher’s World Economic Forum articles, co-written with Martin Schwemmer of Supply Chain Services SCS, they argue that 3D-printing based production will bring factories closer to customers and products faster to the markets.

Nevertheless, it still has its restrictions.

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