3D printing used to be just a way for people to create prototypes faster and cheaper. How come it is now growing at more than 20% each year? If you haven’t considered getting into the 3D printing business, then you are definitely missing out.
If that has caught your attention, then read on to know more about 3D printing, what it is, how it adds value, and 5 business ideas to get you started.
What is 3D Printing?
In all honesty, 3D printing is not a foreign concept. It was already being used way back in the ‘80s by the Japanese inventor Hideo. The concept of 3D printing is to create a physical object by basing it on a digital file. Unlike the traditional way of manufacturing things from molds, 3D printing creates the actual shapes and sizes as it adds layers to the base. Hence, it is also called additive manufacturing.
What a 3D printer does is create a layer using the horizontal cross-section of the object in the digital version. Imagine a pen drawing in layers where each layer slowly forms into the object that is seen on the computer. Needless to say, you won’t be needing special tools and molds in this process, just the printer.
Related: How Much Is a 3D Printer? All You Need to Know
A Timeline of the Boom of 3D Printing
3D printing is everywhere. You may not know nor see it, but it is slowly changing the way big companies manufacture their parts, tools, and equipment. In fact, 2018 saw a big change in several industries starting from Bugatti, Desktop Metal, and Adidas.
In the first quarter of 2018, Bugatti revealed its first brake caliper that was made solely from 3D printing. On the other hand, Desktop Model started receiving new investments to manufacture using 3D printing. Of course, Adidas showed that it is at the heart of innovation by releasing the first-ever shoe whose soles were 3D printed.
In Q2, HP integrated this technology into its supply chain while Ultimaker launched professional FDM 3D printing. Fast forward to the last quarter of 2018-19, Lufthansa and Gillette opened additive manufacturing sites signaling their commitment to 3D printing.
With just these changes, you can already figure out why 3D printing is going to be the next big thing. Apart from that, it already has a market size of over 10 billion and this number will only continue to grow in the years to come. The major driver of demand are engineers and product development teams in the industrial, consumer, and electrical industries.
Related: Best 3D Printer Under $500 – 6 Models to Consider in 2023
Business Ideas for Your Next 3D Printing Venture
Thanks to Adidas, the sneaker game is making another new innovation available to its customers and diehard fans. 3D printing offers a highly personalized and durable alternative to the main material used in most sneakers.
If you will notice, runners often have to change their shoes after running a few extra miles. This is because the main material, ethylene-vinyl acetate (EVA) deteriorates over time. While it is relatively durable, comfortable, and squishy, EVA is not the best material to support your whole foot. In fact, different areas of your feet different kinds of support, hence, different materials.
With 3D printing, you can do away with using just one material while spending less time figuring out which material perfectly suits the customers’ demands. Even New Balance has followed suit in creating shoes that are not just built for fashion but for durability and comfort, too.
Ever since the sewing machine was created , the fashion industry has grown to be an industry of high growth and fast change. It has become highly dependent on sewing machines to create the clothes that everyone wears today. However, the sewing machine is about to meet its newest competition.
3D printing in fashion refers to using flexible material and turning them into clothing. Because of its ability to create and duplicate intricate designs, 3D printing has become the newest alternative to creating detailed fashion pieces. Plus, what has always been custom-fit for the rich can now move to your average home.
Here’s a thought: why transport all the heavy equipment on a rocket ship if you can create it while traveling to outer space? This thought is probably one of the best game-changers that can affect how aeronautics work.
Astronauts in outer space heavily rely on the shipment of tools and equipment for the repair of their space stations. The deeper astronauts go into space, the more expensive each delivery costs. Add to that the time it takes to reach the actual space stations. With 3D printing, astronauts no longer have to depend on such deliveries.
Yes, food. Really. Is there an actual way to create food just by 3D printing? Apparently, Dinara Kasko shows that there is. With her work on her visually appealing pastries, Kasko shows that art, science, and food can always work together to create ground-breaking masterpieces.
And it doesn’t stop there. You can also create geometrical shapes and designs on your plates with 3D printing. Imagine having those delicious flavors converted from screen to dish!
Last but definitely not least is the automotive industry. If there is one industry that is going through a lot of change in manufacturing, that would be cars. Looking at the 2018 timeline, you’ll notice that cars will be able to have more tools and parts produced through 3D printing.
What used to be long lead times for manufacturing parts can now be as short as an hour. You don’t have to wait for weeks just to get your car fixed. And since there are fewer materials required, your overall expense will be a lot cheaper.
There are more industries where you can start to introduce 3D printing. And that’s not all. More 3D printing sites, more jobs are made available for those who can create 3D models. The best thing to do now is offer a 3D printing business and offer the expertise needed in operating it. In the next few years, you can expect to grow exponentially.