No longer something out of sheer imagination, the newest printing technologies are positioned to transform the supply chain, or at least the way certain things are done.
Already on the scene, 3D printing is becoming a tool of choice for quick prototyping or to create intricate and difficult shapes. Earlier this summer, for example, researchers announced that they had created the world's first 3D printed battery using two different electrode inks.
Clearly, this new technology has huge implications for electronics manufacturing and the supply chain. There has been talk of 3D printing for a long time, but it seems that we are on the cusp of broader adoption.
The additive manufacturing (which creates rapid prototypes and end-use parts by creating layered 3D models) is a potentially growing market in every manufacturing sector, including automotive, aerospace, medical, and consumer, according to a recent report from Marketsandmarkets.com. In fact, the global additive manufacturing market reached $1.8 billion in 2012 and is expected to grow at a CAGR of 13.5 percent to reach nearly $3.5 billion by 2017, the report said.
Although still cost prohibitive, 3D printing is now being delivered as a service, making it more widely available. At the same time, 4D printing is already on the horizon.
This enhanced dimension of printing allows for the creation of smart components that can assemble, configure, and repair themselves automatically. Suddenly, there is a whole new world of possibilities for manufacturing opening up.
On Wednesday, August 28, at 2:00 p.m. ET (11:00 a.m. PT), we'll be gathering in the EBN Live Chat area to delve into what these new technologies may mean for the supply chain. We've invited two of our blogger experts, Jim O'Reilly and Susan Fourtané, as our special guests to help shape the conversation. Come on by and bring along your best questions and real-world experiences.