- 3D printing is a manufacturing technique that is currently being developed and refined that has the potential to disrupt the way manufacturing is done. As the technology is further refined and its cost beings to fall, 3D orienting may altogether replace many machines and techniques currently used in manufacturing and could completely change the supply chain landscape. It is feasible that in a few decades many homes will have 3D printers in their homes and companies could sell digital files of their products to be printed in the customers home. This would greatly reduce costs as almost all the expenses associated with manufacturing and shipping the product, it will also eliminate the need for many of the jobs in those industries. A common misconception about additive manufacturing is that it is only capable of producing simple objects and devices. This is untrue. GE has successfully printed small-scale working jet engines and Nike has produced a prototype for a new agility cleat project (Zmorph).
- One thing that will change if additive manufacturing hits its full potential is the number of blue-collar jobs available in the manufacturing industry. Many of these jobs pay that pay relatively well may be eliminated as 3D printing inevitably proves easier and more cost effective. This would make it more difficult for less educated people to make decent wages. The widespread adoption of the technology would make it incredibly fast and easy to obtain a wide range of products. It may seem far-fetched that virtually all American homes could one day have a 3D printer in it, but so too did the idea of TVs being in all homes when the technology was first introduced. In fact, we can see the adoption of the technology rapidly accelerating already. In 2016 500 thousand printers were shipped worldwide, that number is expected to jump to 6.7 million in 2020 (business news daily).