Tag Archives: economics
Will 3D printing be a disruptive change? Sure, but Forbes believes that we may be surprised by the result.
Contributor Tim Worstall poses an interesting counterpoint to some common conclusions about the impact of 3D printing on the global labor market.
First, Mr. Worstall suggests that there will be an experience curve for 3D printing – it will get cheaper over time to produce similar goods.
Which is, as we know, pretty much the way that manufacturing works. Things get designed, dreamt up, and they start out expensive. As we get better at doing whatever it is then prices start to drop: the clearest examples are in the computing and telecoms industries in recent years. Those examples are almost too tedious to recount in fact, they’ve been used so often.
3D printing will go through much the same process and it’s easy enough to see a time in which one has such a printer just as much as one has a paper printer. Need something, call up the part design over the web, pay a buck or two perhaps (and no doubt there will be open sourcers as well) and print out whatever it is that you wanted.
Now the key question is whether this will lead to an elimination in manual labor. As an example, we recently called the impact of 3D printing on the Indian labor market ”mind-boggling” because labor can be reduced dramatically or replaced by additive manufacturing.
But let us go to the extreme and assume that they are cheaper: so much so that manufacturing really does disappear. What does that do to wages? Yup, a fall in the costs of things is equal to, is by definition the equivalent of, a rise in real wages. So if 3D printers do take off it can only be because, by definition, they make us all richer.
Interesting view point, and one that seems to support the belief that 3D printing will be a $5 billion industry by 2020.
Factory photo by Just Add Light used under Creative Commons license.
Arvind Singhal writes an opinion piece for called “The nation must focus on transformational changes around us“, highlighting 3D printing as one of a few changes that will transform the world we know today:
One of the most potentially impactful of these changes is the rapid progress a relatively new technology ’3D printing’ is making. Till a few years ago, 3D printing-based manufacturing was in the realm of a technology that could have applications mostly for defence and industrial prototyping applications.
They have already moved into the realm of mass consumer applications. The possibilities are fascinating and range from printing human organs including complex ones such as kidneys using the recipient’s own body cells, to the elimination of several types of manufacturing with the end consumers directly ‘printing’ at their home things like crockery and cutlery or small home appliances after they have electronically paid for the ‘application’ to the designer and creator of the products.
With dramatic reduction or near elimination of labour from many manufacturing processes the implications are mind-boggling.
The other transformational changes are: the digital age, nanotechnology, and biomedical engineering.
Churchill Club photo from jurvetson used under Creative Commons license.
The Economist has published an in-depth special report on 3D printing and the macro-economic impact this technology will have on our global supply chain. The introduction of this report reads:
The first industrial revolution began in Britain in the late 18th century, with the mechanisation of the textile industry. Tasks previously done laboriously by hand in hundreds of weavers’ cottages were brought together in a single cotton mill, and the factory was born. The second industrial revolution came in the early 20th century, when Henry Ford mastered the moving assembly line and ushered in the age of mass production. The first two industrial revolutions made people richer and more urban. Now a third revolution is under way. Manufacturing is going digital. As this week’s special report argues, this could change not just business, but much else besides.
The report features include:
- A third industrial revolution
- Back to making stuff
- The boomerang effect
- Forging ahead
- Solid print
- Layer by layer
- All together now
- Making the future
Be sure to read all of this great analysis by The Economist.