3D printing, in combination with the internet, robotics and open-source software, will result in a new industrial revolution with profound implications over the coming years for national economies, business models and education.
3D manufacturing – better known as 3D printing – is a process that uses digital "blueprints" to produce three-dimensional products and parts. It is also referred to as "additive manufacturing".
A wide variety of materials are commonly used in this process: bioplastics, gypsum, gold, etc. Particular attention should be paid here to the origin of products. Transparency on the supply chain.
There are unprecedented opportunities in this field for businesses.
A general overview of the impact of the rise of 3D printing:
1. Depending on the industry, this technology will primarily affect the way in which businesses have run their production processes to date. New business models will be required to this end.
2. New products for niche markets
3. Online co-creation of products will increase
4. Return of certain types of manufacturing from low-cost countries. Local production means that it is no longer necessary, or commercially attractive, for various businesses to have their products or components manufactured in low-cost countries.
5. Development of a new "maker culture" in which people actively create products, both for their own use and for the market. Online co-creation of products will increase.
6. 3D printing promotes innovation.
7. New products for new markets
8. Legal consequences: copyright, patents, trademarks. Counterfeiting will increase, and therefore so will lawsuits. Design and development processes will gain financial value.
9. The market for service offices relating to 3D printing will show the fastest growth.
10. More customisation and personal branding.
11. On-demand consumer goods.
12. Worldwide income from all 3D manufacturing products and services has increased by an average of 25% per year over recent years (Wohlers Report 2014). Global turnover is $ 2.2 billion. It is expected to be $ 3.7 billion in 2015 and $ 6.5 billion in 2019. (Source: Wolters Associates (2013))
13. Reduced energy consumption and wastage of materials. Local production possible worldwide.
14. Governments, along with the EU, can promote 3D printing. In the Netherlands, 3D printing is part of the 2nd Rutte cabinet's economic policy, ICT innovation in business.
15. Applications in: automotive, design, fashion, defence, medical, health, nutrition and food service, construction, chemistry, art, agriculture, biological sciences, aviation etc.