Tuesday, May 31, 2016

WHY 3D printing will fail

            Techno Thrills

We know that 3D printing will disrupt manufacturing and the international supply chain, but nobody seems to know how yet. Now a paper from the Business School at Lingman Normal University in Zhanjiang has tried to separate the wood from the trees.

The general consensus is that 3D printing is going to have a profound effect. The concept of mass producing goods half way around the world and then shipping them is inherently inefficient. UPS clearly agrees, as it is investing heavily in 3D printing centers throughout the US that can produce goods on demand for local delivery.

So even the big players are panicking, but what will actually happen? There are theories that much of the labor market could actually be wiped out and logistics will become a casualty of the digital era. This doesn’t take into account our natural capacity to adapt, though, and the fact that we have been here before.

This isn’t the first rodeo

When Asia effectively took over mass production, Europe and the US concentrated on complex products. These goods were often assembled with parts taken from the factories that sprang up in China. Those that didn’t adapt, simply died. The ones that did were often more successful than ever.

Now we face a new industrial revolution that brings its own unique problems. We know that there will be upheaval, but still nobody quite knows how this will pan out.

The concept of mass producing goods half way around the world and then shipping them is inherently inefficient. UPS clearly agrees, as it is investing heavily in 3D printing centers throughout the US that can produce goods on demand for local delivery.
We really don’t know if 3D printing will take over mass manufacturing, or if the benefits of the old system will keep it in the game for a long time to come.

Does 3D printing have a limit?

Printing speed, cost and the quality of the finished product are all improving at a rate that suggests this is the future. But we may yet find a cut-off point where it is simply not cost-effective to use the printers for a certain product.

Well the Chinese researchers have attempted to analyse the situation using system dynamics to offer a rational answer.

It posed a number of possibilities and came to the inevitable conclusion: 3D printing is set to change the manufacturing world and the supply chain. [Continue ...]
Let me tell you why this is wrong.  I've been to 3-D movies. I have a 3-D capable television.  As a kid I even had 3-D comic books. After watching/reading for just a few minutes my eyes get blurry, and I get a headache, and I am not alone.  Twenty-minutes onto "HOUSE OF WAX," fully half  the audience left the Montclare Theater in some level of distress. So this 3-D printer stuff, while techno exotic, is doomed to go the way of other gadgets that flopped big time. Don't invest.

You're welcome.


Anonymous said...

If all the crap we buy from China could instead be printed here in the United States, I'm all for breaking their rice bowls.

Sir H the Comet.

Alien said...

Sorry, Rodger, you're wrong on this, at least partially. There are quite a number of things unsuited for 3D printing, some that will never be suitable, and an increasing number that are.

About 30-35 years ago DARPA issued an opinion, not an RFP but "something to get people thinking" along the lines of better controlling defense logistics. Their idea was shorten some of the supply chain by shipping bits and bytes to remote CNC equipment to manufacture critical components rather than have a complex, heavily bureaucratic (and, hence, very inefficient) logistics system ordering, stocking and shipping replacement parts worldwide. Twenty years ago Nicholas Negroponte of MIT's Media Lab wrote Being Digital supporting the same concept; Negroponte's rallying cry was "ship bits not atoms."

I doubt the AC blower switch for your Fordrolet will ever be 3D'd on demand from behind the auto parts counter - too many different materials required (copper, steel, aluminum and plastic) plus a bit of complex assembly, nor will a replacement jack handle (too cheaply manufactured with Chinese labor), but various bracketry, knobs, and inserts will because that will be the most efficient way to make them available.

I wouldn't sell my UPS and FedEx stock just yet, but if I were in my 20s or 30s I'd start looking at broadening my investments.

Rodger the Real King of France said...

Don't look at me; I'm hideous

Roy Lofquist said...

Actually the 3-D movies were a huge success. I can remember sitting through four showings of a Charlie Chan movie with Chinese subtitles because the theater was the only place in town with air conditioning. Revenues increased dramatically with the increased turnover.

Rodger the Real King of France said...

They were such a huge success (in the 50's) that they disappeared for 50 years.

Gwen Thoris said...

High volume mass production is not viable for 3D printers. You really think you can supplant injection molding for, say, rubber dog poop, lego blocks, pill bottles, USB connect shells, or any number of other things you can see without your glasses on? The value of 3D printing is in small run batch, high complexity parts not suited to molding. 3D printing commodity parts is a waste of 3D printing. Advantage is that injection molders will become hungrier so minimum run volumes will drop, letting more varieties of rubber dog poop get made cheaper.

Anonymous said...

Hey, don't forget rubber vomit. If you're gonna have rubber dog poop, ya gotta have rubber vomit.

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