As the 3D printers are getting more advanced the products which are manufactured are getting also more and more advanced and are used in several high-tech end products like airplanes and cars. But also in other areas like the dentistry and food markets 3D printed products are used.
Besides the attention of the industry, the attention of 3D printing for the consumer market is increasing, as prices of printers are starting to decrease. Nevertheless, there is still some work to do before this market potential can be captured as todays’ consumers will only be satisfied when products or services are user-friendly (easy in use, ready for use, plug and play) and not too expensive.
Some of these hurdles still have to be taken are in the areas of costs/price, materials (availability and types of-) and quality of the ‘output’ of the ‘low-budget’ printers. Besides that, manufacturers must be ready to sell products by ‘sending’ the printorder and software will need to be developed such that consumers can design (program) their own products in an easy way (Or better: ‘printing the picture I just made with my tablet or smartphone’).
3D printing will have a significant impact on logistics. Without getting into detail, think about inventory management. Some products aren’t necessary to have in inventory if you have 3D printing technologies in house (though you still have to have the raw material in stock, but with the same material you may be able to make multiple type of products, so in the end you have less inventory). Furthermore the decoupling point will be more flexible, it’s a complete new sales channel for companies. Production costs might decrease as well as transportation costs. And so on.
But as all innovations do, 3D printing will bring new challenges. Think about plagiarism of ‘print orders’ of products? And how often are you allowed to print your newly bought product via de 3D printing channel? Can it be copied? Can the printer be hacked?
In order to cope with these challenges, new (types of) organization will come into being to fill the gaps created by the new 3D printing market. Thinks about 3D printer services who provide maintenance to 3D printers, brokers who will take responsibility for the quality of printing jobs send from ‘Amazon’ to the consumer.