Charles R. Goulding considers what a return to “normal” in the 3D printing business might look like.
The U.S. daily vaccination level now exceeds 1.6 million per day, or a run rate of approximately 50 million doses per month. Adding the 60 million already vaccinated by the end of February to this total means 210 million Americans will have been vaccinated by the end of May. It is also estimated that 100 million Americans have already had the virus. Accordingly, the hope is that most businesses should be able to resume normal business activities by this June. The 3D printing industry needs to prepare for a return to business but also adjust to a new business environment.
Companies need to think through their vaccination policies and have some direct employee discussions. It is possible that digital vaccination registration may be mandated for future travel. Some companies are offering incentives to increase vaccination levels. Both employees and customers may not be comfortable interacting with nonvaccinated individuals.
Trade Show Displays
Most trade show displays have been mothballed for over a year. They will need to be cleaned and serviced. Interactive displays need to be touchless. Prospective trade shows may use more of a hybrid physical/remote model.
Resumption of more normal business most likely means new hiring. There are many excellent candidates available including last year’s college graduates who are very motivated to get their first job. New employee training needs to also include remote business technologies.
This area requires some careful thinking. The airline manufacturing industry has been deeply depressed while 3D printing technology has greatly improved. All of the Tier suppliers should consider upgrading their 3D printing capability. The petroleum industry is expanding its chemical segments and alternative energy capability which requires different 3D printing solutions. The drone and antenna industries are fast-growing new business segments. Exciting new embedded electronic products should soon be ready for commercial production. Household goods and outdoor activity gear has been a huge growth area that may have some longer-term traction.
The U.S. federal government, including the military, is a very big 3D printing product customer and is now enacting procedures to ensure that American-produced goods are a priority. The 3D printing industry needs to establish its own U.S. content compliance and show its customers how to use 3D printing to achieve their compliance. The national Manufacturing Extension Partnership (MEP) network has been designated as the nationwide facilitator for the new Buy American Act. Every 3D printing company should consider reaching out to their local MEP to learn more and also look into their other valuable programs.
Company Vacation Policies
Presumably, many employees who have been confined to a stay-at-home life for the past year may want to take a well-deserved vacation this summer just when business is resuming. 3D printing industry HR departments may be challenged to create the best balance they can.
In this writer’s opinion, it would be a mistake to think that a post-COVID-19 environment means an immediate return to business as usual. This is the time to do some business planning.