Why is 3D printing not what it should be today ?
“You can design and create and build the most wonderful place in the world but it takes people to make the dream a reality” Henry Ford
It is sure that the title of this article might seem highly negative for a blooming industry on the cusp of changing manufacturing techniques definitively. However, perhaps it comes from the fact that the sheer potential of this technique is still only being discovered well over 35 years after its first discovery. This groundbreaking invention has been slow to come fully into the limelight. Indeed, even though this technique has now skyrocketed in popularity and has been acknowledged by experts as a method pivotal to future manufacturing, the full panoply of possibilities and production methods have certainly not yet all been uncovered.
The comments above made by the extraordinary innovator, Henry Ford, were ones which were certainly heart felt by Ford at the time. While the vision to revolutionize is often there, the power of believing in it is more than often only achieved over time. In other words while potential is one thing — achievement of potential is another.
3D printing is a classic example of this. It has been slow in coming; surrounded by a lack of confidence and imagination and therefore in terms of its progress, it can only be described in negative terms. However, its future should not be negative. The future is bright considering the steady growth that the past five years have brought us. As this technology evolves companies are now responding faster to customer demands and the time to market is decreasing. However, 3D printing’s continued growth relies heavily on a full understanding of how to meet the manufacturing industry’s real needs. Only by doing so will we ensure that it is a viable option for all industries.
One of the ways to understand an industry’s real needs can be achieved by examining those elements which have hampered its progression and likewise those which have propelled it. In doing just exactly this, Productivist has developed a groundbreaking solution intended to ensure that 3D printing continues to grow confidently and rapidly achieve its full potential.
So what factors have lead to the slow propagation of this amazing technology? One of the major factors has been the high cost of printers and the fact that the physical production time has been in the past a relatively slow option. The printing power in the past was simply not enough to meet mass production. Concerning printing techniques and materials, the progression from 2000-2010 can only have been described as a slow but steady evolution and exploration of possibilities. This evolution was not helped by the crash of the financial markets in 2008 whereby companies quite simply suddenly did not have the funds to invest. However, perhaps more importantly and as mentioned in a previous article, despite all this progress there was initially no “buy in” There was no converter, no guru to convert the disbelievers into believers.
2013, however is a highly significant year in 3D printing. It was not only the year of opening of the London 3D printing store, but also the year in which Obama reached out to industry in his State of Union speech describing 3D printing as a major issue for the future turning it into an absolute buzzword. The result of this was a cataclysm of events in 3D printing, drawing industry’s interest to this technique. It was in this year that General Electric started using it as a manufacturing for the production of printed parts using it for 10 different military and commercial planes. Though they remained few, at first, with companies such as Boeing and Ford, the progression thereafter has been an impressive acceleration. In 2014 11% of manufacturing companies had switched to volume production of 3D printed parts or products. Opening the way for more experimentation and exploration of this method and prompting other industry giants today to manufacture highly diverse products such as clothes and sports manufacturing. Spearheaded by companies such as Under Armour and Nike who have concentrated on producing high tech, bespoke sportswear, the manufacturing industry’s imagination has been ignited.
Despite a growing “population” of industries favourable to this manufacturing method, we are clearly not there yet. It remains a technique still to be explored by a great number of manufacturers and one which certainly must not be reserved to those industry goliaths who can afford to inject large amounts of cash into such expensive machinery. Those who are not goliaths remain hesitant to this technique’s viability when applied to their own business model. With an ever growing need for confidentiality and a real emphasis on effective distribution many are deterred. On a financial level, for many an investment in 3D printing materials would be just not cost effective.
Productivist’s vision answers many of the stumbling blocks which have scattered the path of this technology and have done so since its beginnings. By using blockchain technology Productivist will ensure efficient distribution and will guarantee confidentiality at all levels. Through its already large powerful network of 3D printing expertise it offers a solution to all manufacturing industries without incurring heavy investment costs. The result will be the lowering of costs, as the need for molding, casting and forging becomes obsolete and the improvement of distribution as well as the reduction of administration costs and production chain error.
Whereby in its beginnings, 3D printing was required to patiently wait for “guru’s” validation, Productivist knows that they do not have this hurdle for their solution. The possibilities of blockchain technology have already been validated and knowledge of what it is about has reached the general public. It has been received with optimism. Productivist’s solution is an intelligent one and although a stroke of genius it will not be faced with scepticism. The groundwork is now there and the “magic recipe” of confidence and validation which Ford knew he needed to succeed has been put in place. Productivist’s solution is therefore not only forward thinking but it is also one which is ready to take 3D printing forward to the next level in its manufacturing history making it a main player in the manufacturing revolution 4.0.