Once in a great while, a technology emerges that has the potential to revolutionize the world as we know it. Even less frequent is the opportunity for the general public to invest in such a technology. The advent of 3D printing brings with it an opportunity to invest in an advancement that is as monumental as the cotton gin and the Internet.
The mechanization of the textile industry and the mass production of assembly lines introduced by the first two industrial revolutions allowed the economies of the world to rise above slow growth and widespread low standards of living, paving the way for international trade and the growth of industry. The internet has created the world’s greatest index of information available at the click of a button, as well as a new societal culture and medium for business commerce, providing even more opportunities for economies to grow and prosper.
3D printing technology is the next big step that the economies of the world will take, and it will revolutionize manufacturing as we know it, with endless possibilities and applications that are only limited by the human imagination.
3D Printing Will Change Manufacturing
One of the biggest ways that 3D printing will revolutionize the manufacturing industry is through increased efficiency. For example, car companies will now be able to produce parts quickly and on demand in factories, instead of only being able to build prototypes, thereby saving time and money. BMW for instance has saved 58% in costs and 92% in time by manufacturing its parts with Stratasys, which is one of the world’s largest 3D printer manufacturers.
Furthermore, 3D printing technology is additive instead of subtractive, meaning that it forms objects by quickly and precisely adding layers of material together, instead of just cutting away at a solid block of material. This is a big boost in efficiency since the subtractive method is wasting the majority of the material from the block, only retaining the materials that have created the filed down object and discarding the rest.
3D Printing Will Change Medicine
The biomedical field will also be drastically improved through this technology. Companies like Organovo are developing methods of printing arteries and organs that can be custom fit to individual nuances in the bodies of different people. This will lower the risks associated with surgery since there will be a more accurate fit, and will also save time and money involved with searching for donors.
The ability of 3D printing technology to be applied in a variety of ways is further testament to how valuable it will become to our society, reinforcing the case for investing in such technology. Investment by the average citizen in these types of technological advancements is much easier today than it was during the Industrial Revolution, and doing so will provide mutual benefit to both the investor and the company, helping to create financial gain as well as societal gains through the positive externalities of 3D printing in businesses and medicine.
3D Printing and the Current Economy
While the U.S economy has been arduously crawling towards decent growth outlooks, 3D printer technology has been consistently outperforming the market over the last few years, significantly. One of the largest 3D printer companies, 3D systems corp( DDD:NYSE) has grown by 767.91% in the last five years. The two leading publicly-traded 3D printer companies have appreciated by almost 400% since October 1. During the same time period, the S&P 500 gained only 32%.
The Obama administration is also acknowledging the incredible potential of 3D printing technology. In Obama’s last State of The Union Address he announced his plan to build three 3D printing manufacturing hubs in the United States. At these hubs, private businesses will partner with the Departments of Defense and Energy to reverse the detrimental affects that globalization has had on certain regions in the United States.
3D Printing and the Future Economy
Another important characteristic of 3D printing is its ability to bring back manufacturing to the United States. The loss of manufacturing to countries like China has put the U.S in a less than ideal position globally, weakening the core of our economy and causing dependence on other nations. Much of this globalization has resulted from wage incentives, where it is much cheaper for U.S companies to manufacture overseas instead of at home. For example, an apple ipad only costs $9 to manufacture in China, where as in the United States it would be significantly greater, resulting in substantially less profit for apple. This is where 3D printing comes in.
3D printing technology dampens the wage incentive to produce overseas, since products will be able to be produced much more quickly from a printer in the U.S with much less oversight by factory workers. This will help to bring manufacturing back to the United States because there will be no advantage to manufacturing overseas.
No matter which country you live in, investment in 3D technology within one’s one country will improve the economy by bringing manufacturing back home. This will decrease costs associated with manufacturing, which will propel growth in many other related facets of the economy. The improvement and investment in 3D technology will have the potential to increase the value of any other stock that is held in a business/organization that requires manufacturing of a product, which is a huge portion of the economy.
Although 3D printing is still just starting off, its path to the future appears quite promising and lucrative. The industrial economies of the world are just starting to adopt the technology, yet there seems to be a general consensus in the air that this is going to change things, big time. 3D printing stocks have been riding a powerful wave over the last couple of years and there are no signs of it slowing down anytime soon. On the contrary, things are just getting started, and investment in 3D printing technology by private citizens and government will help to support the transition of the world economy towards digital manufacturing.