3D printing technology, more formally known as additive manufacturing, is a game-changer for many companies. In addition to routinely “printing” items from shoes to airplane parts, some companies are exploring scientific and medical applications, such as printing a prosthetic hand or producing a customized tracheal stent.
3D printing has expanded beyond prototyping to the delivery of finished goods, but it won’t replace traditional manufacturing anytime soon. Small production volumes result in high production costs, and the number of raw materials that can be used in 3D printing is relatively small. Significant design and output hurdles also remain.
Still, the potential—for innovation as well as for disruption—is staggering. And the time to act is now, as .
What does 3D printing mean for your business? Could you print products close to or at customers’ premises instead of shipping them? Can you create a mobile 3D printing lab that takes manufacturing capabilities wherever they need to go?
Take time to think through the high-level implications for your industry, and do some scenario planning. Examine your business model to determine if your business is vulnerable, or if there an opportunity for innovation in this area. Also take a close look at the technological platforms and capabilities that need to be in place before you can act on the opportunities that come your way.