3D printing technology has already entered the mainstream in some industries. Aside from prototyping, the aeronautical and automotive industries are beginning to use this technology to produce parts. And 3D printing is now a common method of producing components for medical and dental technology.
Changes are afoot and it is widely expected that 3D printing will continue to make waves across an increasing range of industries over the next decade. It is anticipated that 3D printing technology will revolutionize the pharmaceutical and consumer electronics fields, amongst many others.
With this in mind, it is time that all businesses, in all industries, look at how 3D printing could be a part of their business model and how it could open up new avenues and improve existing ones. It is also essential that the dangers of ignoring a general trend towards 3D printing are analyzed.
Whatever industry you are in, here are the important questions to ask:
1. What are the key benefits of 3D printing to your industry?
3D printing uses an additive manufacturing process, producing items by manufacturing them layer by layer. This has distinct advantages over any subtractive manufacturing process: a reduced inventory of materials to be milled into shape for a start, and a potentially faster manufacturing time.
There are also likely to be waste reduction benefits, meaning reduced material handling, shipping and employment costs, too.
Consider all these alongside potential opportunities for improved innovation and customization. 3D printing technology offers rapid prototyping so it can also shorten the design and development cycle.
2. How can 3D printing improve manufacturing and innovation processes?
To answer this question, these are the main points to consider:
- Can 3D printing technology streamline your innovation and customization procedures?
- Can using 3D printing for manufacturing flatten your supply chain?
- Can you move production closer to markets with 3D printing technology?
- Can it improve your product’s speed to market?
- Can you open up new lines of business by adopting 3D printing technology?
If your answers are all in the affirmative, then it is highly likely that going for 3D printing is the right way to go for your business to grow.
3. When should your company begin a SWOT analysis with regard to 3D printing?
In each and every industry, there are different strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats (SWOT) with regard to introducing 3D printing into the business model.
Because 3D printing has the ability to revolutionize your industry and your business, a huge amount of analysis and planning must take place before it is adopted. The impact of overhauling your innovation and manufacturing procedures will be felt in all aspects of the business, including HR, legal and finance. For this reason, it is not a change that should be brought about lightly.
In short, you should begin asking questions now, research and analyze.
4. What are the main dangers of holding back?
The threat of startup companies using 3D printing technology to get ahead of existing businesses in the industry is a clear and present danger. It is possible for these businesses to immediately take advantage of the benefits of 3D printing technology from the get-go, overtaking you as you undertake the more time-consuming process of switching manufacturing and innovation procedures.
Of course, you can reasonably expect that your competitors are also analyzing the benefits of adopting 3D printing, too. For both these reasons, you shouldn’t delay.
5. What are the tax implications of introducing 3D printing technology to your business?
It may be apparent that reducing your employment and inventory costs will have positive implications for your tax bill.
However, because 3D printing is likely to make a significant difference to material supply chains across so many industries, there will be tax revenue implications. With less exchanging of tangible goods in the supply chain in multiple industries, both domestically and internationally, governments may be forced to alter tax policies. As people move into an increasingly digital world, new taxes may be introduced on intellectual property, for example.
Therefore, caution should be used when analyzing the potential costs of introducing 3D printing. It may reduce your tax bill in the short term, but in the long term, the costs are yet to be known.
6. Will at-home 3D printing impact your industry?
It is expected that home 3D printers are likely to become more mainstream in due course. It is possible that consumers may increasingly purchase CAD files to download and print themselves, rather than the physical item.
How would this possibility affect your business? It is definitely a possible scenario worth planning for. Rather than pushing you out of the market, is this a trend you can harness to your own advantage?
Time to get started
Now is the time to get started. You need to consider how 3D printing can impact your business now and over the next decade. The technology is here, ready and waiting, and knowledgeable people are available to answer your questions about 3D printing.
3D printing is set to alter the landscape of so many industries. Don’t get left behind.
Get in touch with our experts at Proto 21, today.