Why IT Professionals/Enterprises must care about 3D Printing?
With the invention of computing and disruption of software, enterprises and industries have never been the same. After the computing and information technology revolution, the world is ready to embrace the next industrial revolution.
If not all, most of the IT professionals see Additive Manufacturing, well known as 3D Printing, as another fancy trend which will end soon. But the truth is that the technology that is predicted to generate a market worth of 30 Billion USD by 2022 is here to stay and has already become an integral part of manufacturing, medicine, and automotive industries. With many innovations happening in the 3D printing space from 2010 (after patent expiration), 3D printing is starting to penetrate more industries like sports, electronics, construction, and education.
For beginners, 3D printing is the process of creating real 3D objects from 3D digital models.
Why is 3D Printing Important for IT professionals and organizations?
Even though the 3DP technology is not a panacea, it is definitely set to disrupt supply chains, logistics, and manufacturing in an astounding manner.
IT and software enterprises will be challenged to keep up the disruption that is to be incurred by 3DP mainly upon,
With customization becoming easier and more affordable with 3DP, the market is moving from mass manufacturing of a single product to mass customization of the core product. For example, a personal name engraved upon an iPhone case design will have thousands of variants while the iPhone case design stays the same.
With mass customization, the number of products to be managed will rise exponentially. Databases will be expected to handle data of ten to hundreds of product variants around a single source product. IT has to redesign their back end infrastructure to support mass customization.
Sooner or later, products will be customized to be compatible or efficient according to the customer’s requirement and not the manufacturer. As the world moves towards economies of scope from economies of scale, IT enterprises will be expected to handle this challenging role.
This 3DP scenario is very similar to the one faced by music record companies in late 90’s with the digitalization of music. Music record companies lost millions of dollars as the public were able to download music for free from the internet.
Since anyone who has access to a 3D printer will be able to replicate any design, blueprints and 3D digital models have to be secured in every way possible. IP and patent on the designs are not applicable as of now, since they aren’t any rules that cover 3DP.
Sharing of design internally or to onsite/offsite locations can be done by encrypting the files, using a secure server, or by circulating hamstrung files. Software makers must come up with a method to make sure that only the required amount of prints are produced else there are chances of counterfeit products being produced with the help of 3D scanning.
3. Data Analytics
With mass customization and economies of scope, manufacturing will move from one big factory to several mini factories at different locations to reduce the lead time. The metrics followed and monitored from manufacturing to delivery should be reinvented to prevent logistics collapse. With floods of data swamping IT every day, the demand on systems to do rapid analytics on raw data will increase.
4. 3D Printing Software
Since most of the 3D modeling software was built with traditional manufacturing techniques in mind, software providers are being challenged to built a software apt for 3D printing and slicing.
3D Printing has opened a new segment of manufacturing services that is 3D printing services where multiple 3D printers are connected with same software and network to increase the efficiency of manufacturing/printing services. Building one software that is compatible with all 3D printers is an impossible task since there are thousands of 3D printer variants and brands available. Sometimes the 3DP technology may also vary.
How can IT enterprises be equipped to sustain the next industrial revolution?
Big names like Deloitte have already started to adapt to the inevitable change by starting to experiment with different 3D printing technologies by partnering with 3D Printer manufacturers and service providers.
Understanding about the technology and its repercussions across different aspects of their businesses and industries is a major step to be taken by IT enterprises to prepare better for the challenges ahead.
3D printing challenge is a goldmine for IT enterprises who tackle it appropriately but can become a data nightmare for enterprises who do not tackle it well.
This is a guest post by 3Ding, the largest manufacturer and distributors of 3D printers in India. They also provide high-quality printing services, reverse engineering, and 3D scanning services.
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