7 Ways 3D Printing Is Making Manufacturing More Competitive

7 Ways 3D Printing Is Making Manufacturing More Competitive

Apr 26, 2016

By Louis Columbus, Forbes

  • 71.1% of manufacturers have currently adopted 3D Printing.
  • 52% of manufacturers expect 3D Printing will be used for high-volume production in the next 3-5 years.
  • 22% of manufacturers predict 3D Printing will have a disruptive effect on supply chains.
  • Global spending on printers was predicted to reach $11B in 2015 and forecast to reach about $27B by 2019.

These and many other insights are from the Price Waterhouse Coopers (PwC) and Manufacturing Institute report published this month 3D Printing comes of age in US industrial manufacturing.  You can download the report here (10 pp., PDF).

 Manufacturing CEO: “We Are Going To Disrupt Ourselves Before The Market Does By Relying On Advanced Technologies Including 3D Printing.”

During a recent conversation with the CEO of one of the leading industrial equipment manufacturers in the Midwest, she told me that her company sees disruption as key to their survival and growth. “We are doing to disrupt ourselves before the market does by relying on advanced technologies including 3D Printing,” she told me. This CEO successfully has turned around a series of product lines that had flat sales growth, using a combination of cloud platforms, analytics, mobile and rapid prototyping including 3D printing. She says that by putting the customer at the center of these initiatives unifies them and makes their impact on sales and customer satisfaction immediately measurable.

7 Ways 3D Printing Makes Manufacturers More Competitive

  1. 71.1% of manufacturers are now using 3D Printing for prototyping and final products.PwC found that more manufacturers are using 3D Printing for prototyping and final products compared to two years ago (35%). Time-to-market and increasingly unique customer requirements are driving up adoption of 3D Printing in product development and production workflows across global manufacturing today.
  2. 52% of manufacturers expect 3D Printing will be used for high-volume production in the next 3-5 years. Manufacturers are looking more to 3D Printing than ever before for high-volume production, with just over half (52%) evaluating it compared to 38% just two years ago.
  3. 22% of manufacturers predict 3D Printing will have a disruptive effect on supply chains in the next 3 – 5 years. An additional 18% believe 3D Printing is a threat to intellectual property. Digital Rights Management of designs will go through disruption based on how quickly products can duplicated and produced. 18% of manufacturers see 3D Printing changing their relationships with customers, an estimate that is low given how pervasive 3D Printing is becoming in companies who rely on build-to-order and product configuration-based strategies.
  4. 52.8% of U.S. manufacturers believe that in the next 3-5 years, 3D Printing will be more useful in producing after-market parts or products. The impact of 3D Printing on complex manufacturing supply chains that generate high margins from Maintenance, Repair and Overhaul (MRO) products serving aerospace and defense, discrete, industrial and vehicle manufacturing is just beginning. The long-held vision of a jet mechanic being able to immediately order a replacement part while diagnosing an engine and have the part delivered within the hour is now a reality thanks to cloud-based MRO, logistics and supply chain systems that have 3D Printing support capability designed in.
  5. 64% of manufacturers expect to rely on 3D Printing for producing older, obsolete products over the next 3 – 5 years. PwC found that this figure decreased slightly from their previous survey. In previous years, PwC found that 70% of manufacturers are predicting adoption of 3D Printing for solving the challenge of producing older, obsolete products.
  6. % of manufacturers who are 3D Printing early adopters predict that more than half of their peers in the US will adopt 3D printing in the next 3-5 years. Of the early adopters I’ve spoken with, nearly all of them see 3D Printing as a competitive advantage. They are reluctant to share their identities publically including customer testimonials with the 3D Printing providers they are working with. From conversations with manufacturing C-level management teams, 3D Printing is seen as part of a broader customer-driven strategy of accelerating new product development, sales cycles, with upside potential for aftermarket service and support.
  7. Leading barriers to greater 3D Printing adoption in manufacturing include cost (41.3%) and lack of talent (42.1%). PwC also found that uncertainty of quality of the final product (33.1%) and printer speed (25.6%) also were significant barriers to adoption. The leading barriers I’ve seen are resistance to change and the belief that existing prototyping and production processes can scale for the speed and complexity of future customer demand. Forward-thinking C-level management teams are pushing beyond that status quo and measuring manufacturing outcomes from a customer perspective.

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