3D printing will unlock $550 billion in economic value over the next 10 years says McKinsey & Company

It is only just starting to capture the imagination of the wider community, but already it’s apparent that 3D printing is set to become a wildly disruptive technology over the next decade.

Indeed it could have an economic impact of $550 billion by 2025 according to a report by McKinsey Global Institute.

The new manufacturing process not only handles a vast variety of materials ranging from titanium to human cartilage and is profoundly altering the way things are designed, produced and sold.However executives must be prepared for rapidly accelerating product-development cycles that can get a prototype into the hands of consumers sooner, according to the management consultants.

Customer participation is a tricky area for some companies, however being able to design on the same machine your product gets developed on could allow businesses to crowdsource  “brain power” to improve prototypes before they hit the market.

The study’s author suggest this might one day supplant traditional R&D roles allowing companies to make management a new priority in a way that engages with its customers across the business.

Companies must also be able to identify which aspects of the manufacturing process that 3-D printing can assist and which ones it cannot.

“These include components with a high labor-cost element (such as time-consuming assembly and secondary machining processes), complex tooling requirements or relatively low volumes (and thus high tooling costs), or high obsolescence or scrap rates,” study authors Daniel Cohen, Matthew Sargeant, and Ken Somers wrote.

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(Image source: www.4imprint.com)

“Forward-looking manufacturers are already investigating ways of triaging their existing parts inventories to determine which hold the most potential.”

3D printing also offers the potential to design by collaboration, disrupt competitors and reduce costs and allow businesses to shift their sources of profit, according to the report.

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