By: Lexi Roach
I read recently the striking similarities between the societal effects of the Internet and 3D Manufacturing, and found them to be quite fascinating. The Internet changed the face of communication across the world, and 3D printing is set to do the same by rewriting the way we make and produce products.
Some of the target markets that 3D printing is intending to hit include large corporations, small businesses and especially consumers. It may seem funny to have consumers be a target market, as a 3D printer on average costs about $30,000- not quite the fit for a typical consumer’s budget. However, that is where small businesses come in. When consumers need a part printed, whether it be for a car, a desk, a kitchen item or relatively any other piece, the goal is to have them start looking for 3D Printing companies. As long as they have a blueprint or image of the part they need, it can be printed quickly, usually in less than a day (for a reasonably sized part). This will increase the efficiency rate of production and of replacement parts, just like the Internet increased the efficiency rate of communication. The Additive Manufacturing industry itself is seeing yearly gross increases as well as continued customer investment. From 2013 to 2014, the number of 3D printers increased from 56,507 to 98,065, according to Statistic Brain. Another notable projected figure is the annual 3D printer revenue in 2018; it is expected to be $1.4 billion, a $400,000,000 increase from this year to then.
As the 3D printing industry continues to take off, our society will start to see these pieces integrated into everyday fixes. For example, if you were to go to a local auto body shop and request a part for a vehicle, it could take up to a week for the part to arrive, and then another day or two for installment. With 3D printing, the time it takes for the part to be printed and given to the company to install it is far less than a week. Along with parts already designed, there is a creative side to 3D printing that does not come with traditional methods of manufacturing. You can take any idea you think up and input the information right into a 3D printer, and out comes your finished product.
With all of this said, the investment into 3D printing saves you on the two most valuable assets in your life: time and money.