If you are yet to see a demonstration, then you should know that 3D printing is one thing considered very futuristic. It?s almost like the meals that used to materialize out of nothing in the Jetsons? oven with just a touch of a keypad. This technology is very straightforward because printing has come from a small evolutionary step of praying toner on paper and has gone as far as putting down layers of more substantial materials like plastic resin till those layers add up to become an object. Now, what?s so intriguing about 3D and making it a great part of the future is the fact that it enables a machine to produce objects of any shape on the spot just as needed.
As the applications of this technology keep expanding and the prices keep dropping, this means that most goods will be manufactured at the point of purchase or consumption. This also means that a lot of things that have relied on large centralized plants will easily be produced locally. Even if the per-unit production cost is more expensive, It will be offset due to the elimination of shipping and buffer inventories. For instance, today, cars are made by just a few hundred factories around the world, but in the future, they could be manufactured in all metropolitan areas. Spare parts could be made at dealer shops or repair shops, and by making components as they are needed, assembly plants could eliminate the need for supply chains.
A different implication is that goods will be extremely customized because alteration will not require retooling, the only thing to be done is tweaking the instructions on the software, and you get the results you want. Creativity will meet individual needs the same way quality control used to in the era of sameness.
The first order implications will have businesses from manufacturing, supply and retail rethinking their operations and strategies. A second order application will have an even greater impact. When 3D takes full hold, the factories that made China the world?s workshop will lose their force. China will not exactly lose in the new era, but it will have to give up being the powerhouse of mass-manufacturing in the world. It will still have a domestic market to serve on a local basis, which is quite huge actually. Not every product will lend itself to 3D printing.
This new technology will change the way the world leans because the great transfer of jobs and wealth to the East over the decades seemed like a certain tipping point. 3d printing will take over in numerous aspects making things a lot easier, a lot faster and a lot cheaper as well. A lot of things will be manufactured this way including health care products that might not be available in any other way.