3D printing is seen by many high-volume traditional manufacturers more as competition, not as a new tech they might want to convert to themselves. It's not likely that many of them would convert 100% anyway, not with current technology. But some in some industries are likely to begin bringing it inhouse--and are already using specialized D&M service bureaus--for certain components and directly manufactured end-products, such as industrial and aerospace, especially when they're made with metal processes.
Well, you're probably right, Chuck. To have to redo everything to support 3D printing/manufacturing would be a little bit difficult and expensive. But I suppose if things trend that way, manufacturers will have to make changes. That is just the way business and innovation work!
Toys were one of the earliest things to be 3D printed, especially action figures, since they're simple and can be made of cheap materials--but not by the big manufacturers. They are rightly afraid of this technology.
Here's a Kickstarter project for DIY 3D printed action figure kits: http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/gogodynamo/modibot-mo-diy-action-figures-with-3d-printed-acce
Actually, I don't know if toy manufacturers would resist that idea, Liz. I'm just assuming that if I were in that position, and had already invested millions of dollars in tooling, I might not like the thought of someone who sells toys without paying a penny for manufacturing facilities. I'm just surmising...
Great idea, Chuck--3D printed toys. Why would toy manufacturers be so resistant? I guess because it would take business away from more traditional players, eh? And require them to change their processes...but this is where technology is going, so it could be a good thing eventually, as you say, lowering the cost of overhead and maybe even increasing production of new and innovative designs in the future.
That concept is a bit mind-blowing to me, Pubudu, but I think you're right--it's going to be like ordering glasses or contact lenses...give them your measurements and specifications and get the body part to fit. Wow. What a concept!
I still think there's an opportunity for toy manufacturers (although some might be horrified by that statement). Seems like many kids toys could be 3D-printed and easily assembled. Among toymakers who haven't invested in a lot of manufacturing machinery and tooling, it could be a very low-overhead business. Design the product and send it out as software, to be printed at home.
As manufacturers add new technologies to their products, designing for compliance becomes more difficult. Prepare for the certification testing process. Otherwise, you increase the risk of discovering a safety issue after a product leaves the assembly line. That will cause significant time-to-market delays, be much costlier to fix, and damage your brand in the eyes of customers.
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