- 3D printing may offer a new solution for manufacturers and retailers looking to deliver last-mile products more quickly and at lesser expense to the company, according to an article penned by real-estate firm CBRE.
- The technology only accounts for 1% of all manufactured products in the U.S., but the global market for 3D printed goods is expected to grow to $21 billion by 2020, the firm reports. Hearing aids are an example of a successful, 3D printing based supply chain according to CBRE, as a Deloitte report estimates there were 15 million such products in circulation as of 2013.
- The company estimates manufacturing firms in Manhattan, and other tightly packed urban zones can use the technology to their advantage as they will be able to move production to office spaces, which are more widely available than industrial zones.
3D printing is gaining traction in the manufacturing world, but its full potential has yet to be explored. The technology may revolutionize the supply chain with its capacity for turning raw materials into items through additive manufacturing, rather than reductive processes.
In turn, instead of depending on suppliers for expedited shipments of goods at moment's notice, companies may be able to invest in stock raw material to produce the missing pieces in hours through a 3D printing station. Other companies may just use the process for prototypes, quickening the speed of innovation. Finally, just-in-time production may reach a whole new level as companies can offer to produce low-sale items upon order, rather than holding the inventory.
If any of these uses gain speed, one major side effect of the technology will take place in the real estate arena. Urban zones may see more manufacturing facilities boasting the additive processes with little need for large warehouse space. UPS is already offering the technology as a service in select stores, promising quick delivery throughout Asia and the United States.