3D Printing: Employment Boom or Doom?

3D printing has been hailed as a revolutionary technology with significant potential to alter business, manufacturing and society in general. Considered as a ‘disruptive technology’ by some economic naysayers, it definitely is an innovation that creates a new market and value network and eventually disrupts an existing market and value network, displacing established market leading firms, products and alliances.

It can similarly be considered to the early stages of the Industrial Age where machines were starting to replace the cart and oxen as the main mode of transportation and slow human labor started to give way to mechanical production in factories.

Now, the basic pessimistic view on 3D printing is that the traditional printing jobs along with other labor in the job market will be decimated, with losses in the tens of millions. Combined with robotics and intelligent machines, automation within manufacturing will certainly intensify. The question is, will 3D printing ultimately lead to a total loss in jobs and employment?

The big answer to that is a flat NO.

Traditionally technology has created more jobs than it has destroyed. When computers began to emerge on the scene in the 1970’s, there have been talks of job losses that were nearly as intense as they are today, surrounding 3D printing jobs in the market.

So, what happened? The majority of people were wrong. Just think about how many jobs the Googles, Apples, and Microsofts of the world have created over the past decade alone.

Yes, it is possible that a lot of jobs will be lost, but for every job lost there is a fairly good possibility that more than one job will be created. As employees are laid off by retailers and manufacturers, actual costs to the companies are decreasing substantially. This can then be passed on to the consumer, allowing for a lower cost of living nationwide. This may lead to a stronger economy as more money is available to spark new business, new innovation, and eventually millions of new jobs.

These former employees even have their chance to create their own companies and businesses dedicated to this new technology.

Case in point, we have already seen thousands of new 3D printing jobs created around the 3D printing industry online. Several new small businesses having popping out online using 3D printing in their mode of operations. These new companies would allow more people to be employed, not just in 3D printing jobs.

This number will grow for years, and even decades to come. After all, we will need people to fix, make, and sell the machines, and who will manage the companies that do all this. In addition, entirely new job categories will be created.

3D printing has brought on a new wave of innovation which we have not seen in many years. There are new types of artists who rely on 3D modeling, and the CAD software market is heating up, meaning we need more programmers to write the scripts. Those who can learn new fields the fastest will be the individuals who stay employed, and likely prosper.

Originally published at https://www.linkedin.com on June 28, 2017.

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