One of the key topics we’ve discussed in class was how digital innovation will impact the way companies get their products to customers. The manufacturing sector specifically has felt digital innovation whether it’s through applying digital tools to lean transformations or using advanced analytics to optimize specific manufacturing processes. One specific area I’d like to discuss about is 3D printing and how it’s currently reshaping the manufacturing process for many major brands.
3-D printing isn’t what is used to be a few years ago. Today’s 3-D printers can develop fully functional components not to mention use a variety of materials including titanium and human cartilage. They can build larger components with greater precision, finer resolutions at higher speeds and lower costs. In many cases 3-D printing is ready to become a viable alternative to conventional manufacturing processes.
3-D printing will bring along five disruptions to manufacturing that business leaders should prepare for.
- Accelerated product-development cycles – Manufacturers can go into production with 3-D printed parts and start selling products while the traditional tools are still being made hence speeding up the product development cycle.
- New manufacturing strategies and footprints – Companies will determine which parts are candidates for 3-D printed alternatives (specifically those with high labor-cost element). 3-D printing involves less labor than the traditional alternative so the technology can be applied in remote countries with lower input costs for electricity and labor (lower footprint).
- Shifting sources of profit – The ability to manufacture replacement parts on demand using 3-D printers could allow relatively small facilities with on-site additive manufacturing capabilities replace large regional warehouses.
- New capabilities – manufacturing execs need to understand the challenges involved with 3-D printing to develop new capabilities to make the process smoother and more optimized.
- Disruptive competitors – New competitors will arise in the 3-D printing space who will at first cater to niche market. Overtime, they could transform industries by moving the competitive advantage from manufacturers to designers or to the ownership of customer networks (open source).
Manufacturing will never be what it once was. 3-D printing is forecasted to grow up to 30% and has the potential to reshape how America and the rest of the world makes stuff. Manufacturers that embrace this technology now will be able to survive well into the future.
Cohen, Daniel., Sargeant, Matthew., Somers, Ken. (2014, January). 3-D printing taking shape. McKinsey Quarterly. Retrieved from: https://www.mckinsey.com/business-functions/operations/our-insights/3-d-printing-takes-shape
Wile, Rob. (2014, September). This Technology Could Have The Biggest Impact On American Jobs Since Offshoring. Retrieved from: http://www.businessinsider.com/how-3d-printing-will-affect-manufacturing-jobs-2014-8