McKinsey, a worldwide management consulting firm, predicts that additive manufacturing could have an economic impact of $550 billion annually by 2025. 3D printing has always been seen as a solution to the complicated process of taking a product from design to finished product, but has never fully caught on- until now. The latest round of 3D printing technology is changing this by doing more to shorten the prototyping and manufacturing stages for bringing a product to market.
The current applications for 3D printing (additive manufacturing) are vast. They include medical and dental devices, fashion, footwear, jewelry, eyewear, education, and even food. In this blog post we are going to focus on the adoption of 3D printing in the retail industry.
Innovative retail companies have started to gain a competitive advantage for themselves by offering customized products at the same price as their competitor’s standard products. Tweaking design instructions in software (what 3D printing allows) rather than altering entire physical productions lines has allowed them to accelerate the time to market while reducing their operational costs.
Another benefit of 3D printing for retail companies is it enables them to offer a truly personalized product to the end consumer. This is becoming increasingly important as competition for consumer attention increases. For instance, sportswear giant Nike has spoken how its shoes could one day be 3D printed in-store or even at home. The company’s COO, Eric Sprunk, sees this as a good start to changing the whole manufacturing process for sneakers. Most of the companies in the sneaker space have primarily spent time and resources on design-based innovation. For example, what the product would look like, how is it going to feel on the consumer’s body, what’s the engineering behind the pattern. Nike is taking a different stance by focusing on making shoes more personalized to an individual consumer through 3D printing in an effort to cut through the noise.
Big companies aren’t the only ones making use of 3D printing. Entrepreneurs, small businesses and even consumers are also adopting 3D printing at an increasing rate. One of the main drivers for this is more accessible tools to make 3D content that can be 3D printed. It used to be that one of the barriers for entrepreneurs, small businesses and consumers to get into 3D printing was the specialized knowledge you needed to work with 3D CAD software. The proliferation of 3D scanners has completely changed this. More and more 3D scanners are now allowing you to create 3D content with the push of a button.
Learn more about the 3D Printing and Scanning industry