What I Hope To Provide A brief summary of the technology. How this topic relates to e-commerce and e-marketing. An educated estimation of the direction and effect of 3-D printing. The implications to manufacturing, marketing and e- commerce.
What is 3D Printing? A process by which layers of a material are deposited one at a time to form 3D objects. Backup Link
How Does It Relate To E-Marketing? 3-Dimensional printing stands a good chance of revolutionizing many manufactured goods over the next 25 years. When making marketing decisions, knowing the pros and cons of a chosen manufacturing method is important. Should this occur the marketing landscape for many products will change drastically. How will your line of homogeneous goods sold in a big box store compete with overnight shipping of custom goods printed on- demand? Knowing what tools you have to work with increases your value to employers. You will be working during this technology’s growth and maturity. Knowing what is coming technologically makes you an asset.
Consumer Printers Now Consumer Level Printers Slow Typically only one material can be printed. Small websites offer reasonable selection of “trinket” level printable objects. The Cubify is one of the first 3D printers to reach the consumer market. Priced at $1299 USD.
Consumer Printers Within 25 Years Consumer Level Printers Moore’s Law puts 3D printers at under $200 USD in just 6 years. Combine further developments with their respective price reductions and you have reasonably priced, useful printers in 15 years. Small “fabrication shops” may begin to open with more expensive, versatile printers for higher end items. Simple electronics may be entirely printable at this point.
Industrial Level Printers Now Higher Quality but Expensive Used Primarily for Prototyping Recently Used for Medical Prosthetics
Industrial Level Printers Within 25 Years. Industrial Level Printers Factories will open with 3D printers designed for mass production. Printers which print with a great variety of materials will be developed and put into use on mass manufacturing scales. Current factories will adopt these advancements where economical Customizable components in a traditional product. Parts for factory machinery. Entire product lines that fit the capability of the current technology.
End Result Manufacturing 25 YearsManufacturing Now From Now1. Have an idea. 1. Have an idea.2. Design/prototype. 2. Design/Prototype.3. Obtain capital. 3. Place product for sale online.4. Find manufacturer. 4. Market product.5. Retool factory. 5. Sell product to be printed6. Find distribution channels. locally at an approved7. Begin marketing product. facility.8. Orchestrate manufacturing.9. Orchestrate shipping.10. Sell product.
Manufacturing Implications The marginal cost of production will shift. Mass customization becomes a true reality. 10,000 products can be customized for 10,000 customers with nominal additional cost. Economies of scale are no longer a consideration for simple products. The geographic distribution of some manufacturing will even out as this technology proliferates. Regions can produce their own low-complexity items without incurring shipping costs. Smaller inventories. Reduced risk. Cost of materials and recycling. When many goods manufactured by this technique can be returned to a factory and easily remade into something new the availability of raw materials will eventually rise.
Marketing Implications Inception to sale can be much faster. Product launches may take a fraction of their time today. “Democratization” of manufacturing could foil product launches. Did your firm just spend $35,000 in research for a better spatula? An individual in Kansas created a far greater design two months later and is outselling you. Piracy. What happens when you can print the latest Nike footwear from a file? How is intellectual property protected? Product differentiation. Firms that market traditionally manufactured products will have to compete with printed alternatives. Once advanced enough to be on par with traditional manufacturing, how do you claim your product is better if it was printed at the same facility, with the same material as a no-name brand?
Marketing Implications Pricing. How does a well known brand price a product that could be created by anyone with the required skill to design and access to fabrication factories? Speed of business. The speed at which new products are created and launched will accelerate as the technology proliferates. This is a dream and a nightmare for marketing. New markets. One factory in a developing market could produce a variety of goods with no need for long term, distinct assembly lines. They manufacture only what consumers require at the moment. Ethics Less labor for simple products reduces the overall number of opportunities for labor abuses. Less labor for simple products also reduces the available manufacturing jobs in a region.
Clarifications Will 3D printing replace traditional manufacturing? No. Many traditional processes cannot foreseeably be replicated by printing with the same end result. Will I be able to print an iPhone in 25 years? Complicated electronics require so many materials and some processes that may not be economical to use printing technology for. Portions of the iPhone will certainly be printable. How about printing clothing? By the end of the timeframe we’re talking about printers may be advanced enough to print a weave. It is more likely that robotics will have addressed clothing manufacturing by then.
Summary This is a highly disruptive technology. In 25 years this will have changed shopping more than the mp3 file changed music. Related fields will experience the effects of 3-D printing. Medicine. Construction. Businesses should prepare themselves to be in a position to adopt the technology as it progresses.
First Printed Car First printed “car” Prototype Only the body was printed(I believe)
First Printed (Model)Airplane Used traditionally expensive structural features. Created as a proof of concept for future more practical uses.