Design Studio: How 3D Printers May Change the Way You Do Business
3D printing is a relatively new technology that allows users to recreate just about anything by ‘printing’ it using plastics or resins which are laid down in layers until they build a 3 dimensional object. Once the realm of the super geeky, 3D printing has been tipped to hit the mainstream in the next few years with BRW predicting that 3D printers will be a popular Christmas present for kids in 2015.
With recent advances in technology, 3D printers are becoming ever more straightforward to use and this, along with a decrease in price is likely to make them within the reach of just about everyone and this could have serious implications for the way that products are manufactured, marketed and consumed in the future.
The value of 3D printing has already been highlighted across a number of industries including education, aviation, mining and the medical industry. As technology evolves it is anticipated that the machines will become affordable enough for everyone to buy and simple enough for children to use. A local Melbourne company is already planning to supply 3D printers to primary schools in Australia as a way to help children learn about science and give them an outlet for their creativity.
The widespread use of 3D printers could potentially give everyone the ability to manufacture any product they like in their own home, or to take a digital “pattern” to a printing shop and have custom made items printed on demand. What impact is this likely to have on businesses who make and supply consumer goods?
A number of manufacturers are jumping to take advantage of the predicted boom in 3D printing and it’s likely that 3D printing will lead to some sweeping changes in the business models of B2C companies.
With the ability to instantly print products to any specifications, businesses will be able to create customised products which meet their customers’ exact specifications and deliver them with an incredibly fast turnaround time.
Customers who have a 3D printer at home may be able to purchase design templates, download them and produce their own goods. With no need for a physical product to be made and shipped, it is anticipated that marketing and design will become an essential focus for businesses.
It will be interesting to see what happens in the future as 3D printers become more mainstream. With all these possibilities, anyone who is running a B2C business may want to brace themselves.