The article “Why 3D Printing Could be a Manufacturing and Logistics Game Changer” (http://www.manufacturing.net/blog/2013/10/why-3d-printing-could-be-manufacturing-and-logistics-game-changer) reviews the capabilities revolutionary characteristics of 3D printing. The article highlights five main benefits of 3D printing:
- Three-dimensional printing increases production speed while reducing costs: For any company it’s beneficial to either increase production speed or reduce costs, but to be able to do both would change the industry completely.
- Consumer demand will have more influence over production: The possibilities of customization with 3D printing could “re-establish how manufacturers respond to customer demand. Manufacturing could become more consumer-based and responsive to the current market and its needs”.
- Instead of outsourcing, we could return to “near-sourcing” and U.S. production: With lower costs, outsourcing labor could become unnecessary. In contrast, manufacturing facilities “would be located closer to the consumer, allowing for a more flexible and responsive manufacturing process, as well as greater quality control”.
- The need for global transportation is significantly decreased: As discussed in #3, with manufacturing sites located locally, global transportation would become unnecessary, which again would help reduce costs even more.
- Logistics companies could offer more comprehensive, start-to-finish services: “With 3D printing technology in-house, logistics companies could take on more of a fourth-party logistics (4PL) approach instead of a third-party logistics (3PL) approach.
Before 3D printing can have a drastic effect on the manufacturing industry, it will need to be scaled up for mass and mainstream use. But as summarized above, the possible benefits of 3D printing are staggering.