5 Interesting Business Trends Involving 3D Printing
Mar 28, 2016
By: Ebong Eka
The Internet and social networks have revolutionized the way small businesses operate. Entrepreneurs, solopreneurs and freelancers have built businesses from their home offices using the Internet. These same businesses now have the ability to reach tens of millions of potential customers across the world using social networks like Google+, Facebook, Twitter and more. In other words, innovative technologies have given many small businesses the ability to compete on a larger scale not only with a lot more speed but also for a lot less money.
Aside from the Internet and social networking, what is one of the newest and most innovative technologies that can help your small business today?
The answer is in 3D, and you won't need 3D glasses for this new trend in business. 3D printing via a 3D printer allows you to print a three-dimensional object from a digital CAD file. CAD stand for Computer-Aided Design used to design models. These printers have the ability to revolutionize the manufacturing industry, especially for small businesses and new entrepreneurial ideas.
In a recent speech I gave to a University of Maryland business class, a student and budding entrepreneur asked me how to find investors for a product idea. She wanted to create a product prototype to not only test the idea but also show to potential investors. It’s true — many investors and bankers won't consider an investment without a working prototype. Several years ago, producing a prototype would have been an extremely expensive endeavor for any new entrepreneur. This student would have needed thousands of dollars to hire a firm to prepare the digital plans and then send the plans to a manufacturing company to create a model for the prototype — but not anymore.
3D printing is not just a manufacturing innovation! It's an opportunity to impact businesses across the board. So how will the 3D printing trend impact your businesses?
Publications by multinational consulting firm McKinsey & Company, information technology company Computer Sciences Corporation (CSC) and Forbes Magazine reveal their thoughts on what the future of 3D printing in the business arena would possibly look like.
Here are my top five trends from their findings:
1. 3D Printing Products Proliferate
At some point, many things we use may be produced or created by a 3D printer. Lighter and more fuel-efficient parts can be created by 3D printers for the airplanes and cars we travel in every day. Fuel efficient operations could result in cheaper fuel costs and cheaper airfare.
2. Making the Lives of Others in Healthcare Better
In the future, customized 3D-printed solutions may be used instead of using standard-form models for medical devices and implants. Healthcare companies may be able to produce customized prosthetic limbs and medical devices, including braces.
3. Made to Measure Products
Like custom-tailored suits, 3D printers will allow the customization of products to their exact specifications and delivered to their homes. With the prices of 3D printers declining, smaller businesses can now offer the competitive advantage of customization to their customers at a lower price.
4. Faster Product Innovation
3D printers can give businesses the ability to quickly prototype ideas. Cutting down the amount of time in the production cycle will give designers the opportunity to focus on product functionality. In addition, there would be accelerated product-development cycles by reducing time in product development. In some cases, 3D printers can help reduce turnaround times to a matter of hours, instead of days or weeks.
5. 3D Print Shops
In the future, 3D print shops will spring up everywhere to service local markets with high-quality 3D-printing services.
As the costs of 3D printers continue to decline, more people now have the ability to enter the printing, prototyping and manufacturing business. More importantly, 3D printers can not only level the playing field, but can create a resurgence of IT, design, and digital careers and businesses.
Ebong Eka is a CPA and tax & small business expert frequently featured on MSNBC, Fox News, Fox Business Channel, NBC and CNN. On top of his television appearances, Eka is a Huffington Post blogger and the author of Start Me Up! The No-Business-Plan, Business Plan.
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