Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Is 3D Printing geared up for serious manufacturing?

What is serious manufacturing? Serious manufacturing consists of serious customers who pay you to run your business and expect from you as a supplier serious commitments in terms of quality, deadlines, production capacity, price, logistics etc. When i take a look around me and casually pick up 5 products that go through serious manufacturing - for instance : plastic bottle, shoes, television, mobile phone and the dashboard of my car. Now how many of these products can now be seriously manufactured by additive manufacturing or 3D Printing as it is now popularly called. The answer is "None". The fact is additive manufacturing still is used by engineers to a great extent in rapid prototyping and to some extent for customized products. For 3D Printing companies to able to replace the conventional manufacturing systems, there is still a long way to go and if they do so they can grow exponentially. But the fact of the matter, the current technologies are still way away from achieving this in terms of production capacity and cost of manufacturing. There has to be an Einstein in 3D Printing who takes this technology to a different level, people who think differently coz currently its all about milking the cash cows rather than focussing what the industry needs in real terms. The future of manufacturing would definitely be customized products where each product or atleast a batch of products will be customized for a specific market and additive manufacturing can play a big role in achieving this. Like most technology buffs, i am waiting for the Eureka moment where i see a breakthrough technology in this domain but currently i see only wannabe companies taking advantage of patents getting expired and projecting millions of dollars of revenues just because they have assembled a prototype based on open source technology. A couple of technologies have the potential to achieve this but not with the current setup.
The next decade will decide whether this technology has really the potential to replace conventional manufacturing systems or is it just a technology suited for custom manufacturing. There have been serious entrants in this domain and it would be exciting to see this technology closely over the next decade. To all the CEO's of 3D Printing companies " The world is watching you, so gear up"

No comments:

Post a Comment