3D Printing: A new Industrial Revolution dawns

You can ignore it, deride it as the folly of home hobbyists or write it off as having limited, specialised application, but there is no escaping the fact that the new manufacturing process known as 3D Printing is set to turn manufacturing and potentially global supply chains on their heads. With the pace of its both is adoption and capabilities rapidly gaining speed, alongside a dramatic reduction in cost, technology experts say it represents nothing less than the beginning of a ‘Third Industrial Revolution’. By Donald Urquhart.

3D Printing: A new Industrial Revolution dawns

This new technology has suddenly exploded into mainstream consciousness thanks to a gun proponent in the US. It was quite simply a ‘shot that was heard around the world’ – but this time it was not the start of a world war, nor of colonial rebellion, but perhaps the starting gun for a different kind of revolution. With the successful creation and firing of the world’s first 3D printed plastic gun, the average global citizen suddenly became aware of this seemingly futuristic manufacturing process.

In a recent white paper, Transport Intelligence (Ti) highlights that 3D Printing or ‘additive manufacturing’ as it is also known, “has the potential to become the biggest single disruptive phenomenon to impact global industry since assembly lines were introduced in the early twentieth century America.”

For the global transport logistics sector this new technology represents potentially both a threat and an opportunity as this new technology could dramatically revolutionise production techniques, reducing the need for large and costly work forces and thereby reversing, to some degree, the trend of globalisation, according to Ti.

And while the plastic gun is hopefully not the technology’s most lasting memory and one surely eclipsed already by the wide range of medical and scientific objects already being constructed, it is a technology still clearly in its infancy.