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How 3D Printing Could Change Small Business Operation

Over the next few years 3D printers will play an increasingly larger role in commercial production for both large and small businesses. While many large production companies have already utilised the technology, improving and streamlined units are making it increasingly possible for SMEs to incorporate 3D printers into their business models.

iBusiness Blog - 3D_PRINTING

Image Credit: Creative Tools

Reduced Production Costs

The advent of the 3D printer as a viable option for small production companies and e-commerce businesses could be the biggest revolution of the commercial production process since Henry Ford’s famous assembly line. Simplifying the process could significantly reduce the production costs, allowing businesses to pass savings onto their customers or increase their profit margin.

The customisability of 3D printers could also allow businesses to increase their body of stock or allow customers a degree of control over the products they order. A furniture stockist may currently stock a chair in black or white, but with a 3D printer may be able to produce the model in any colour the customers choose.

Reduced Delivery Time & Costs

One of the big changes that may occur as a direct result of the increased use of 3D printers is the utilisation of remote production. Technology research company Gartner anticipates 3D printers will become more common in UK homes within 10 years. This will make it possible for small business to sell printing information to customers, allowing the customers to remotely print out the products in their own home, reducing courier costs and time.

Printer stockists like Printer Land have already started selling 3D printers, anticipating the growth in popularity of the industry with both the small business and domestic markets.

Reduced Storage

The functionality of 3D printers could afford businesses the luxury of downsizing their storage operations, greatly cutting costs in the process. Businesses which utilise the capacity to print remotely through customers’ units may never have to stock the physical product, only storing the printing software and design files.

Additionally, companies who are completing the production process in-house can also reduce their storage needs by only producing models when orders are received. Rather than stockpiling all of their product models, the company can have a more bespoke approach to stock retention.

Restructured Employee Dynamics

Whilst certain roles with businesses adopting 3D printing technologies may be rendered redundant, new roles will need to be filled. The 3D printer could become one of the most important facets of the business and will accordingly require due attention paid by skilled professionals. Dedicated 3D printing specialists may need to be added to the team to oversee the printing and production.

Current 3D printers do not utilise a ‘push and print’ functionality like 2D paper printers, making it necessary to respect the technology as you would any large piece of production machinery.

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