Mar 03, 2014 10:37 AM EST
Today there are mobile applications for 3D printing from the Android phone. Companies also develop Android apps for smartphone printing delivering the appropriate web interface for printing remotely. Developers offer available APIs for remote printing. There are companies which are parts and accessories suppliers for 3D printers for Android.
Below are five 3-D printing disruptions that senior executives should begin preparing for:
1. Accelerated product-development cycles
Reducing time in product development was a key benefit of the first 3-D printing machines, which were designed to speed the creation of product prototypes (and in some cases helped reduce turnaround times to a matter of hours, from days or weeks). Now many industries are poised for a second wave of acceleration as the line between additive and conventional manufacturing blurs.
2. New manufacturing strategies and footprints
As of 2011, only about 25 percent of the additive-manufacturing market involved the direct manufacture of end products. With a 60 percent annual growth rate, however, that is the industry’s fastest-growing segment. As costs continue to fall and the capabilities of 3-D printers increase, the range of parts that can be economically manufactured using additive techniques will broaden dramatically. Boeing, for example, already uses printers to make some 200 part numbers for ten different types of aircraft, and medical-products companies are using them to create offerings such as hip replacements.
3. Shifting sources of profit
Additive-manufacturing technologies could alter the way companies add value to their products and services. The outsourcing of conventional manufacturing helped spur companies such as Nike to rely more on their design skills. Likewise, 3-D printing techniques could reduce the cost and complexity of other kinds of production and force companies to differentiate their products in other ways. These could include everything from making products more easily reparable (and thus longer lived) to creating personalized designs.
4. New capabilities
Design is inherently linked to methods of fabrication. Architects can’t design houses without considering construction techniques, and engineers can’t design machines without considering the benefits and limitations of casting, forging, milling, turning, and welding. While there is a wealth of knowledge around design for manufacturing, much less is available on design for printing. Our conversations with executives at manufacturing companies suggest that many are aware of this gap and scrambling to catalog their design know-how.
5. Disruptive competitors
Many benefits of 3-D printing could cut the cost of market entry for new players: for example, the use of the technology to lower tooling costs makes it cheaper to begin manufacturing, even at low volumes, or to serve niche segments. The direct manufacturing of end products greatly simplifies and reduces the work of a designer who would only have to take products from the computer screen to commercial viability. New businesses are already popping up to offer highly customized or collaboratively designed products. Others act as platforms for the manufacture and distribution of products designed and sold online by their customers. These businesses are gaining insights into consumer tastes and building relationships that established companies could struggle to match.
3-D printing has evolved from just prototypes and production. The modern 3-D integrates into devices, LEDs, batteries and more. Such components offer better resolution and faster speeds. Cost savings is also lower. The industry is currently at a tipping point. The economic implications of 3-D printing are significant according to McKinsey Global Institute research which suggests that it could have an impact of up to $550 billion a year by 2025.
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