The many uses of 3D printing have become more and more mainstream in recent years, with increasing numbers of businesses utilising the wide range of functions of the technology to streamline their production processes and reduce manufacturing costs.
The ever-refining technology is becoming increasingly accessible and beneficial to small businesses – here we explore five ways SMEs and start-ups could be revolutionised by 3D printing.
1. Increased Ranges
Rather than picking and choosing the range and products to stock, limited by financial concerns, storage space and customer trends, 3D printing will allow small businesses to retail an incredible range of products. This will increase the efficiency of the service provided by small businesses as customers will not be required to shop in multiple locations to tick off all the items of their shopping list. Having become accustomed to online stores such as Amazon with almost limitless ranges, online shopping patterns support single-store visits. The improving 3D printing technology could help small businesses compete with the big boys for product choice.
Printing their products upon demand, the businesses will be able to truthfully list all products they are capable of manufacturing as ‘in stock’ at all times – offering a more comprehensive service to their customers.
2. Increased Customisability
Detailed customer demands may be better accommodated when bespoke products are being printed and developed with the aid of the 3D printer. Small businesses will be able to customise their products and output to the individual needs of their customers – potentially increasing custom and customer satisfaction.
As far back as 2010, market analysers witnessed an increased demand for customised products and services. Refined 3D printer technology may finally accommodate complete customisability without compromising product quality.
3. Improved Storage Solutions
One of the biggest overheads for e-commerce businesses is often the lease or rent of storage space. This is especially prominent for businesses that stock large units or large numbers of products due to the extra necessitated space. The quick manufacturing of products with 3D printing technology can reduce the necessity for storage space due to the ability to produce orders on demand.
If a company can produce all orders entirely on demand, its storage space will be significantly reduced.
4. Digital Delivery
Utilising 3D printing technology could completely remove all delivery costs by simply delivering digital information to customers in lieu of the physical product. Customers may be able to select a digital delivery option wherein the company would email over a digital file allowing customers to print out the product on their home 3D printer. By creating a perishable file or single-use serial number protection, the company could protect itself against its digital files being copied and sold by its customers.
The clamour for home 3D printers continues to grow as more domestic functions are developed. Printerland is amongst the first home and office printer stores to stock small, compact units suitable for use in the home.
5. Employment Opportunities
The development of 3D printers could help realign the positioning of the production process – bringing the design and manufacturing back in-house. For the foreseeable future, large-scale 3D printing will not incorporate simple ‘push n print’ functionality, necessitating the employment of skilled 3D operators. Akin to learning a craft, individuals seeking employment within the manufacturing process will be able to develop the skills to develop products with a 3D printer. If 3D printing proves to be a cost-effective production process, 3D printing engineers may soon find themselves incredibly sought after.