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How 3D Printing Will Kill The Supply Chain

And why every community will have its own factory

3D Printing is a technology that has revolutionized the way we manufacture.

3D printers can make almost any shape of an object, and they work without needing an external supply chain. 3D printers can create things on-demand, which means there is no need for stockpiles of materials in warehouses anymore.

3D Printing will kill the supply chain because it eliminates the need for storage space and inventory costs incurred by many companies today.

What is 3D Printing?

3D Printing is the process of making a three-dimensional object from a digital file. It’s also known as additive manufacturing (AM), which means that material is added layer by layer to create an object. This technology has been around for decades, but it only recently became more mainstream and affordable.

The most common type of 3D printer uses a laser or electron beam to fuse layers of plastic to build up a solid object. However, other materials can be used to make 3D objects as well. These include metal powders, waxes, resins, ceramics, and even human tissue!

The future of manufacturing

3D printers are becoming increasingly popular because they allow anyone with access to a computer and some basic knowledge about design software to print their products.

They’re handy for creating prototypes, molds, and models. But what if we could use them to produce finished goods? What would happen to the global supply chain then?

Let’s take a look at how this might work.

In the future, you may be able to download a CAD file directly into your 3D printer. This will eliminate the need for expensive computers, specialized software, and designers.

Instead, you’ll have to upload a digital blueprint into your machine. Once the model is printed, you’ll need to pick out the pieces you want to assemble and add them to your product.

This is already happening today.

Many 3D printers on the market today don’t require any special software or hardware. You can buy one for under $1,000 and start designing right away. And thanks to open-source designs, you can find free files online that you can print yourself.

Companies like Shapeways now let you upload your designs and then send them to a 3D printer to be made into physical items. So far, these services have mainly focused on selling jewelry, but they’ve already started offering furniture, toys, and other household items.

But what happens when you no longer need someone else to manufacture your products?

If you were to design a new car, you wouldn’t expect to pay thousands of dollars to get a prototype built and tested before you could sell it.

Why should you expect anything different when it comes to your home appliances, clothing, or electronics?

When you think about it, the current system of mass production makes little sense. We spend billions of dollars developing new technologies, only to throw them away after they’re obsolete. In addition, we often rely on third parties to produce our products for us.

For example, many people still buy their clothes through department stores like Macy’s or Sears rather than shopping online.

A 3D printer eliminates all these problems. With one device, you can produce almost any kind of item you can imagine.

Decentralizing the supply chain

The ability to rapidly create high-quality, on-demand objects in remote locations via 3D Printing will better transform the supply chain to meet client demands.

In this case, a decentralized network of 3D printers will take the place of some or all of the centralized production facilities that use conventional equipment.

Fabricating products close to the point of use reduces inventory requirements and lead times while reducing the amount of trust placed in forecasts.

The distributed production on demand-supply chain’s flexibility enables it to react quickly to unpredictable consumer demand without incurring extra expenses, such as transportation, customs, taxes, and others connected with logistics.

The use of 3D printing networks to the extreme in a consumer goods scenario might prevent the need for seller-controlled production methods. Consumers could purchase access to designs and manufacture products at leisure or other production-capable locations.

3D printing technology may help countries rely on importing most things to decrease their reliance on foreign manufacturing.

Some experts believe that by producing a product at home rather than purchasing it through standard retail outlets, customers may save 80 to 90 percent on their purchase price.

3D Printing is also being researched by NASA for in-space manufacturing on the International Space Station, allowing for onsite production of equipment upgrades and tools rather than requiring a space launch. The Navy is looking into 3D Printing to make replacement parts while underway at sea.

Virtual inventory in the virtual warehouse

Another way 3D Printing can revolutionize supply chains is by reducing the need for warehouses and inventory.

Instead of creating a component and storing and shipping it from the source, 3D Printing will allow parts to be manufactured anywhere and at any time.

Businesses may upload a digital component file to be 3D printed near where it needs to be delivered rather than transporting a physical piece to a distribution center or using a logistics provider.

And the ability to print a component on-demand eliminates the need for stock, lowering warehouse footprints and overhead expenses.

It also saves money on transportation fees and greenhouse gas emissions by reducing needless miles traveled while also having the beneficial consequence of improving supply chain performance when the part is produced.

Because of this, 3D Printing can also assist with the problem of global supply chain sprawl.

It may be more cost-effective to outsource some components in China, but coordinating an efficient worldwide logistics network to transport them from production can be challenging.

The ability to manufacture parts in-house using 3D Printing, on the other hand, might be accomplished almost anytime. Part production can be located closer to essential markets or logistics providers, reducing travel time and logistics and inventory expenses.

Better matching supply with demand

The on-demand economy appears to be gathering strength. Customers and companies alike are more eager than ever for what they desire, when they want it, and where they like it.

Forget about unrealistic demand predictions from the past. 3D Printing allows for a more efficient supply chain and better matching of supply to demand.

Traditional manufacturing necessitates the use of specialized tooling to create one-of-a-kind parts, and the development of the tooling is both pricey and time-consuming.

However, due to the benefits of scale, mass production is more cost-effective because tooling may be used indefinitely for large-scale components.

Because low-volume manufacturing (as with prototypes, service parts, and minimum order quantities) can’t achieve those savings in costs, it’s a no-go.

3D Printing eliminates the need for this specialized hardware, making it ideal for small-scale manufacturing. Companies don’t have to invest time and money into tooling if they utilize 3D Printing for low-volume projects.

The lack of a solution for substantial minimum order quantities is another example. It’s annoying when an organization only requires 100 of a component, but the minimum order quantity is 500 or 5,000.

These circumstances prompt companies to implement on-demand manufacturing using 3D Printing into their supply chain network as a logistics rather than a manufacturing approach.

Every community with its 3D factory and every house with its 3D printer

In the future, 90% of retail transactions will be made online and using 3D printers. 3D printers will get sophisticated enough at some point that they’ll be able to create almost anything in the home or close to it.

It will be more practical than going to a store or having it delivered since it will be quicker, you won’t have to wait, and there may even be extra customization options-such as colors.

Customers will be able to interact with 3D models of products to learn more about them and use augmented reality and virtual reality to assist them in better understanding the items before purchasing, which is a crucial benefit of today’s offline retail.

There will be a method of utilizing AR to show you what a new sofa would look like in your living room, allowing you to alter the color and other details.

Before you buy a product, virtual reality will let you view it from a first-person perspective to ensure that it is appropriate for you.

Every small community, town, neighborhood, and home will have its 3d manufacturing plant or printer.

Everything from entire homes to vehicles, consumer goods, and more will be manufactured when and as needed.

Takeaways

The age of on-demand supply is nearly upon us.

3D Printing will change the supply chain in that it’ll be more efficient and better matched with demand.

At the touch of a button, we’ll be able to have our ideas, meals, medicines, and almost any consumer product produced on the spot at that moment.

And it will come at a cost and convenience that can only be dreamed about today.

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