3D printing is a manufacturing process that was invented in the late 1980’s. 3D printing involves a design being created digitally, and then being sent to a machine which prints actual materials to make an object. It is also known as “additive manufacturing,” as the 3D printer adds materials one by one in layers until the object is complete.
3D printing has become increasingly popular in the past few decades. Now, it is actually changing, and possibly even reinventing retail. Here are three ways 3D printing in retail is changing the retail industry.
1. Localized manufacturing
In the past, many companies were forced to outsource all of their manufacturing to manufacturing companies, often times that were very far away. This is because a lot of companies did not possess the tools to make a product onsite. However, with a 3D printer, companies can now designv a product and produce a prototype locally.
This can be extremely beneficial for companies because it means that they can create, test, and alter their prototypes themselves. This is very empowering to companies. Once they have the perfect prototype, then they can contact larger manufacturers for large-scale manufacturing. This can make the manufacturing process more efficient.
3D printing will give customers for many retail stores the option to make custom designs. For example, a bracelet company that has a 3D printer may be able to allow customers to request a custom bracelet design. The bracelet company can then create the design and print as many bracelets as needed for the customer. 3D printing significantly increases the potential for customization.
Stores such as Staples are actually even putting 3D printers in their retail locations and allowing customers to use them for a fee. This could prove to be a new stream of revenue for office supply companies.
3. Increased overall efficiency
Not only can 3D printing in the retail industry shorten supply chains, but it also enables the entire manufacturing process to be swifter. Everything from design, to testing, to alterations, and more can be sped up and improved.
A 3D printer is essentially, a game-changing invention for the retail industry. Any time that a company looking to create a retail product wants to make a new product, it can just make a design, and use the 3D printer to make a prototype. 3D printers make it extremely easy to generate many prototypes.
3D printers are becoming so useful that It is actually predicted that most offices will have a 3D printer by the year 2020. Is it time for your company to invest in a 3D printer?