Satisfying consumer demands for rapid fulfilment and customisation, a new study commissioned by Ricoh Europe reveals the vital role retail business leaders see new printing technologies playing in driving their competitive advantage. 73% of those surveyed believe investments in 3D printing, also known as additive manufacturing, directly lead to greater customer satisfaction.According to the research, 84% of retail leaders report a growing demand from customers for shorter delivery times and 74% say customers increasingly want more personalised products. With that in mind, 68% say new printing technologies provide a key source of differentiation for their business.
3D printing is here, and it’s poised to change everything. Research firm RnR forecasts a $30.19 billion market by 2022, with almost 30 percent annual growth. Advances in additive technologies and materials are opening incredible new possibilities for academics, health care, manufacturing, government, retail, you name it.
Before 3D printing, traditional production methods meant products had a “design for manufacturing” process. 3D printing enables manufacturing for design. Anyone can easily and quickly prototype new products or give existing items a radically different look and feel. But there are also pragmatic uses. Consider a power plant that depends on turbine blades, which need to be replaced from time to time at great expense. By using 3D printing to repair some blades, the utility no longer needs to buy as many new ones.
This is great for the customer, terrible for the blade maker. That’s what happens when the line between manufacturer and customer blurs.
The demand economy is disrupting every sector and causing those in the supply chain and manufacturing fields to be more innovative than ever before. A decade ago, consumers accepted waiting a week for their product but now with the infusion of companies such as Amazon and Alibaba, consumers are making their purchase decisions based on how quickly they will receive the product. In order to stay competitive in the marketplace, companies are turning to 3D printing to create their products quicker.
While it is true that manufacturing in certain locations can be low-cost, managing a global logistics network is not, especially as transportation costs continue to rise. That is where the opportunity for 3D printing lies. It is not surprising that analyst firm Canalys anticipates that the worldwide market for 3D printers and its associated materials and services will grow to $20.2 billion by 2019.
Supply chains are about to make a fundamental shift. Where traditionally supply chains followed something like the SCOR model (plan, source, make, deliver, return), 3D printing is innovating that model and putting consumers in the driver’s seat.