Just a few short years ago, 3-D printing seemed like concept lifted directly from science fiction (the process actually resembled the “replicator” concept from the Star Trek franchise). But at this point, 3D printing is a manufacturing reality, and soon it may have the potential to become entirely mainstream. What will 3D printing hold for the future of the industry, and will the complete arrival of this technology change the landscape of staffing and employment?
Nobody knows for sure how 3D printing systems will change standard production processes, though at this point, companies like +Mfg and Parker have been partnering to create 3D printers that are capable of producing a precision engine block. It’s also impossible to predict the impact of this capability on staffing and employment, though companies may reduce payroll costs by streamlining production. Only a few things are clear: 3D printing is here to stay, and the possibilities are exciting, confusing, and poised to deliver uncertain returns on investment.
Speeding R&D cycles and streamlining supply chains
We’ve all seen internet images of 3D printing in process in sometimes magical forms (and many of these are purely artist’s renderings of a possible future). A device that can create an arch or suspension bridge of out a single material while moving slowly down the completed portion of said bridge, for example. If these images are brought to life, supply chains can be simplified by tenfold, which will transform current EPR platforms and applications. Research and development cycles, prototype creation, and product testing can also take place at an unprecedented speed with minimal levels of cost and error.
Customization can go up, batch sizes can go down (to one), and mass production can take place with near-perfect levels of product specification. On-demand manufacturing will require a broad software footprint and extensive IT upgrades, but once these upgrades and new software infrastructures are in place, the cost of production can drop dramatically, which may transform business models that depend on customized production and delivery.
When combined with the flexibility of cloud computing and offsite data management, the possibilities are nearly limitless. For more information on the future of 3D printing technology and the potential impacts on your specific organization, reach out to the Little Rock staffing and management experts at Career Staffing Services.