A ten-page report commissioned by parcel delivery and logistics service UPS suggests that 3D printing is a huge opportunity.
UPS took the step of interviewing a number of their business clients to develop the report, which concludes:
3D printing presents compelling business opportunities. Companies that wait too long to explore the potential could be missing out.
You might think they’re having trouble understanding the current troubled situation 3D printing finds itself in, but they explain their analysis this quite well:
But for many years, 3D printing appeared – at least in the mainstream view – to be more of a novelty than a practical tool to advance commercial manufacturing. 3D printers created one-off trinkets, souvenirs and not much else. And business leaders often were skeptical that 3D printing would ever advance enough to be an integral part of manufacturing.
Nevertheless, we are now seeing that 3D printing has reached an inflection point as lower costs and technological advances have put it within reach of more people.
This, I agree with. During the period of 2009-2014, the public awareness of 3D printing rose very dramatically, and with it, many fortunes were made.
Unfortunately, at least some of these fortunes were based on the fallacy that everyone could 3D print useful things. That just isn’t possible using the 3D printing technologies of today. They are too complex, too limited, too expensive, too slow and sometimes too frustrating for the general public to adopt the technology en masse.
Thus, in 2014-2016, many fortunes were lost in the 3D printing industry.
But today, in the ruins of corporate missteps and market backlash, there is a new vigor awakening in the industry, as those who survive focus on truly practical applications of the technology.
In many cases, those applications are not in the hands of consumers, so the technology may be drifting out of public awareness. But in those back rooms, manufacturing plants, design studios and field offices, a small revolution is beginning. 3D printing is being used for benefit, not just thrills. Expect a lot more in coming years.
The evidence is in UPS’s report, where they show in statistics how enlightened businesses are using – or not yet fully using – 3D printing tech in their operations.
You might ask why UPS produced this report, and I strongly suspect it’s because they have a current and future interest in the technology. As a major logistics firm, they no doubt see 3D printing fitting well into their business chain. In fact, they already offer Stratasys uPrint 3D printing services at some outlets. The report suggests they may intend on doing even more if they highlight the business opportunities for their customers.
Of course they say 3D printing is a compelling business opportunity: it fits into their future plans.
But there’s another reason they say that: it’s true.
Via UPS (PDF)