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There has been a lot of talk about the upcoming 3D printing revolution and how it will bring about the same big changes as the Industrial Revolution.
It is claimed that 3D printing in the future will replace the traditional manufacturing process.
I intend to make it clear that these statements are strange, more science fiction than the real world.
This is not to say that 3D printing is not an exciting technology. it has great future and potential investment opportunities, so let's not be too exciting.
There are many companies involved in the 3D printing industry, some of which are the largest: 3D systems (NYSE:DDD), Exone (NASDAQ:XONE), Stratasys (NASDAQ:SSYS)
And the organization Corporation (NASDAQ:ONVO);
The market value of these companies ranges from $0. 4 billion to $5 billion.
In addition to these pure 3D printing companies, some large companies, including HP, are also investigating 3D printing (NYSE:HPQ)and 3M (NYSE:MMM);
3D printing currently has a lot of business benefits.
The production line is the engine of modern industry, which is a very efficient process that can produce thousands of finished products every hour.
famous and simple example of its efficiency is to make a humble pin.
Shows how such a simple project can be broken down into many separate tasks, with a dedicated individual in each field, and production increases significantly in the process of doing so;
Many times more skilled than the production of the entire product.
From this time on, the production line has only become more efficient and streamlined;
Almost any product you imagine can be produced at a very fast speed.
Now, many people suggest that 3D printing can occupy a large part of this capacity, which is impossible for many reasons: the production line creates a fully packaged product that can be loaded into trucks and ships, the 3D printer cannot do this, the printing process requires an additional step to take it out of the printer, pack it, and then ship it-
Increase costs and time.
3D printing is slow, it is basically a big box, after a period of time it will print out a product that may take hours to days, how should this compete with production lines that produce thousands of products per hour?
Some people will suggest that you can stack some 3D printers together to match the capacity, which increases the cost (
Not cheap 3D printer);
Logistics problems (
Power and space requirements);
Trying to feed all these machines with raw materials and collect finished products will not be an effective process.
Strength: 3D printing uses a layered process, which is not as powerful as a traditionally made product, and you can print out things that look the same as the one you want, but actually, this will be a bad alternative.
Materials: usually 3D printers are printed in plastic, look around you, very few of your home products are made of plastic, they are very fascinated by the combination of materials.
Because the melting temperature is sometimes several Baidu apart, 3D printing is not easy to overcome this problem.
It will not be able to print both materials at the same time, which again increases the extra time and complexity of the process.
Cost: raw materials for 3D printers are not cheap.
Cost is based on scale;
If you want something big, it's expensive, it's cheaper for smaller things, which has no real relationship with its complexity or the number of parts.
No economies of scale;
Producing 10 items, the cost of each item will be the same as the cost of producing one item, exactly the opposite of the production line of economies of scale.
Another way to overcome the production line process is that there will be many individual 3D printer owners who produce products using spare capacity and then sell them through the online marketplace.
It sounds reasonable, but it's actually very impractical.
Product owners do not want their production lines to be spread across the country, suitable for anyone with printer and sales capabilities.
This will only take profits away and lead to inferior products.
Where is the quality control, who will be responsible for the defective product, can you make sure that some printers don't cut corners for cost savings?
All these problems will be a logistics nightmare for any manufacturer.
Conclusion while 3D printing is an exciting technology, it is easy for people to get carried away by this technology and think it will change around the world.
The reality is that 3D printing is by no means a challenge for modern production lines, although we can dream of Star Trek-
Like a machine that magically produces finished products, this is not a reality.
If you are making investment decisions with these goals in mind, you should take a closer look at your portfolio.
Disclosure: I do not have a position in any of the stocks mentioned, nor do I have a plan to start any position in the next 72 hours.
This article was written by myself and expressed my views.
I received no compensation (
In addition to Seeking Alpha).
I have no business relationship with any stock company mentioned in this article.