2016 looks to be a breakout year for the industry as senior executives’ eyes are on the technology’s potential. The industrial market for 3D printing real end-use parts looks poised to begin its long growth run, with far reaching implications. 2016 will likely usher in 3D printing’s first “killer apps,” impacting both product design and supply chains. No matter what, 2016 will be a year when leaders across industries will be compelled to pay close attention to the emerging opportunities and disruptions that 3D printing is creating.
Here are eight 3D printing trends to watch in 2016.
1. Consumer Market Drop
It appears they may be late to the party. 2015 marked the end of the 3D printing consumer market hype cycle with Stratasys (the acquirer of MakerBot) taking massive write-offs and 3D Systems shutting down its entire consumer unit in December. With prospects dimming for the short-term consumer market, attention will quickly turn toward 3D printing’s area of greatest promise — industrial applications.
2. Pushing The Limits Of Technology
While GE and Ford have touted their rapid progress with 3D printing, many others are achieving some incredible accomplishments. Look for exciting announcements about exotic new 3D printing materials such as glass and graphene and 3D printed objects that shatter the previous limitations on shape and size. These “big area” 3D printing machines hold the promise of manufacturing an entire airplane wing structure or blades for massive wind turbines in a single print.
3. Outsourced 3D Printing Gains Share
Most internal design shops have access to an in-house “pro-sumer” 3D printer. But despite advances in the technology, these printers remain difficult to use, often result in print errors, and are subject to traffic jams when everyone wants to print something at the same time. As the speed and sophistication of external providers has increased dramatically, with some now guaranteeing 24-hour production/delivery, many engineers and designers are ditching their internal printers in favor of a external service providers. Many firms feel they don;t have to buy a machine at all.
So what can our importer do?
• First, it should be certain it’s compliant, and can learn how to be so by talking to a customs broker about the appropriate duties and tariffs.
• Find out if there are special impediments to importing a given product. This will help the company decide if this endeavor is going to work at all. If our toothbrush was made of camel hair, for example, it may require approval from a fish and wildlife department. If the firm was importing a potentially perishable product, concessions might be made to expedite the shipment.
• Customs examination is a large roadblock in importing. This happens when U.S. customs officers decide the paperwork alone isn’t sufficient to allow the shipment into the United States, and they’ll have inspectors look inside the box to see what’s really there. Remember, just because U.S. Customs decides to hold your shipment doesn’t mean that those clocks stop ticking.
In a customs exam, the importer has to pay for truckers to pick up and deliver the shipment to a customs warehouse. The importer has to hire labor to open up the boxes (customs officials don’t do this). Once the inspections have been completed, assuming everything is OK, the boxes need to be reloaded and shipped to the importer’s warehouse. If there’s damage or difficulty in reloading the container back on the truck, this presents more delays and costs.
So far, this seems like a nightmare. But it doesn’t happen every day, and when it does, it happens for a reason: The U.S. customs department exists to protect the United States.
There are many international business videos that deal with these issues.
. Does this market require local sales talent?
. In face-to-face meetings, are there any cultural conventions that the American sales person should observe?
. Is the sales person held to a different ethical standard than is the population in general?
. What are the possible negative consequences if conventions or standards are overlooked?
. What traits or qualities are considered admirable for a sales person to display?
. What behavior is considered to be offensive?
. Sales people in any culture must be assertive to a degree. At what point does assertiveness become interpreted as aggressiveness in this culture?
. Are there specific selling techniques in this industry that are particularly effective in this culture?
. How important is call preparation?
. Is it necessary to work with administrative assistants?
Need an International Business Video?
It AIN’T Gonna be easy Why do people think it is easy to do business overseas? Culture, language, customs and laws are different!
It AIN’T gonna be fast The biggest single cultural difference is the perception of “time”
It AIN’T gonna be free Does your office have staff, machines, phones, vendors, and expenses? Why do you think that would be different abroad?
Your skills AIN’T gonna transfer Well, not completely. You may know all about “channel management” in Wisconsin, but Japan does it differently.
You AIN’T gonna enjoy it always Jet lag. Exhaustion. Lack of language. Cramped flights. Endless meetings. Tricky negotiations.
Your money AIN’T gonna guarantee success. Just because you are the buyer, doesn’t mean you will have an easy time buying what you want.
Your law AIN’T gonna win You AIN’T gonna sue If you do, you AIN’T gonna win If you do you AIN’T gonna collect
You AIN’T playing as equals No matter what your project, the strongest relationship will win…even if your product is better
They AIN’T gonna be transparent Americans say what they mean, and mean what they say. There aren’t many other cultures that do that
You AIN’T gonna succeed if you AIN’T knowing what you are doing
When we speak of 2D Printing, we mean the old fashioned way of printing documents….offset printing, copy machines, and desktop printing. When we speak of 3D Printing, we refer to additive manufacturing, a process that turns a blue print into a product.
It’s important to point out that while many aren’t familiar with 3D Printing, the industry itself is 32 years old. So these predictions aren’t about “what might happen,” they are more about “what is happening and will it change?”
When I was commissioned to write this piece, my belief was that the publisher wanted to see if 3D Printing will head to the desktop the way 2D printing has….it’s hard to find an office (even a home office) without a copy machine. The advent of “all in one machines” which include scanner, fax machines, copy machines and printers have enormous convenience. Additionally, one can find an all in one machine that costs less than $100.
So will 3D Printing head that way?
Yes and no and maybe and sometimes. 3D Printing adoption differs from 2D Printing in the following ways:
1) The internet. When 2D printing evolved there was no internet. And since there was no internet, there were no internet marketplaces. With 3D Printing, one can buy printers, 3D designs or time on someone else’s machine, witch are called:
2) Service Bureaus. These are 3rd party 3D Printing services which will print objects for you. Many of them also offer design consulting and materials consulting (materials- what substance is used to make the 3D Printed object).
The combination of these 2 forces changes the game in the 3D Printing world. In the old 2D days, we used outside services for printing. But usually someone had to walk into a shop and interact with someone. Only later did print shops have internet access and create online stores for their customers. The internet does something else…it creates a forum for rapid, worldwide story telling about 3D printing and has attracts audiences eager to learn about the latest developments. One such forum is http://3dprintingchannel.com
Today, someone with a 3D Printing project can walk into a shop -there are many out there and UPS, Staples, Home Depot and others are getting in the game. Alternatively, someone could take that same project and look online for someone to print for them, just by uploading a CAD drawing.
3) As the industry matures, so does the ease of technology. Creating CAD designs was the domain of trained engineers, back in the day. Today, an 8 year old can create a design, and there are many Apps that will do it for you with almost no effort.
Many of us are walking around with scanning technology that can be used to render 3D Printing CAD drawings…the technology can and will be embedded in smartphones.
4) Entry costs. A 3D Printer can cost millions of dollars (machines that print airplane wings, or print from human tissue) or less than $100 – kind of a modified glue gun. But at $100 I can put this technology into my 11 year old’s hands and let her experiment. Is a $100 3D Printer the coolest Christmas present yet?
5) Medical. No technology has the ability to save and help as many lives as 3D Printing. With human tissue engineering, we can print body parts (see http://bioprintingworld.com) that can be the difference between life and death, or the difference between life without an arm and life with one. This phenomenon alone forces one to bet on the technology.
6) Borderless. Instead of shipping an item in a box, one can send a CAD drawing and print where the user is. That means if someone in Ukraine needed a tractor part, they could get the blueprint of that part online, and it would make no difference that someone from Brooklyn uploaded that design. This forces the rapid adoption of this technology.
7) Big Data. 3D Printing can done in an online environment. Drawings can be purchased in that environment. 3D Printed products and services are bought and sold virtually. That means that a great many of Big Data firm track these transactions. Then they analyze, repackage and resell the data that is being produced. Compare this to taking a photo and copying it on a Xerox machine! Hence there are Big Data firms interested in furthering this industry!
These 7 factors (and many others too numerous to list here) mean the rapid adoption of 3D printing…much faster than 2D printing, and much more meaningful.