Many of us, at least those of us who have dealt directly with 3D printing, have had a vision of the future globalization. There are those who say that the production of spare parts will end, they will be printed if necessary. Those who say that we will eat 3D printed food (in reality there are those who have already done so).
The most optimistic think that in the future, even if remote, we will no longer buy objects but only projects, the project of the bicycle, the project of lasagna and so on with everything that comes to mind. Certainly to get to this possible future, 3D printing still has to make great strides, in even more timely and surprising ways than it has done so far.
In the near future, 3D printing will not change our lives, but it will certainly change the global economy; Panos Mourdoukoutas is a famous economist, expert in global markets, business and investment strategies. He is also professor at Columbia University. Mr. Mourdoukoutas has written a very interesting article on Forbes on how this new technology could make the difference for the economy of Europe and United States. Let’s read what he says.
Here is the article:
“3D printing is a revolution that changes two important economic equations. Internalisation/externalisation and globalisation/localisation. It unbalances the balance between internalisation and outsourcing of production in favour of internalisation and assigns a solid point between globalisation and localisation in favour of localisation.
In the 3D pre-press era, outsourcing – the transfer of a number of activities to third parties, both within their own national borders and abroad – has enabled companies to improve efficiency, reduce costs, accelerate product development, and focus on marketing.
Globalization: a resource? Perhaps a danger
All this has helped American companies to cope with the destructive forces of globalisation; that is, the intensification of competition and the erosion of prices, generating the profit that we know followed.
For some companies, relocating their production is the discrimination between standing and failing.
Relocation, however, has had a “side effect”.
The disintegration and fragmentation of the supply chain. This process has led to an increase in new competitors in the sector, destroying prices and consequently the profitability of companies pursuing this strategy.
An example above all in the PC sector, outsourcing has favoured the entry of Chinese competitors such as Lenovo, which has eaten for breakfast a company like Hewlett-Packard. He had also aggressively relocated his production of personal computers.
This “side effect” derives from a simple reason. Outsourcing is only possible if each activity can be separated from the other activities in the production chain.
Assembly, for example, can only be outsourced if it can be separated from product development, marketing, distribution and after-sales service. The same applies when it comes to marketing or delocalised distribution and so on.
This means that the more activities are outsourced, the more the supply chain is transformed from a single integrated process. Carried out within the confines of traditional societies, to a fragmented and disjointed process, a sequence of separate and disconnected activities. Carried out through several independent and non-interconnected subcontractors.
This is what makes the entry of new competitors into the sector easier, resulting in increased competition, lower prices. As a result, the return on investment is reduced.
With the advent of the 3D printer, most of the benefits of outsourcing have decreased or even disappeared altogether. Additive manufacturing allows these companies to perform all these activities “at home” when necessary and, if necessary.
At the same time, additive manufacturing helps companies maintain and strengthen control of the entire production chain by avoiding the side effects described above.
Add to the recipe the savings on transport costs and the benefits of customization, and bingo!
Relocation is history, and in this way the vast majority of employment returns to the United States (or Europe – added by us). From Mexico, India, China, etc. This is actually going to be a hard blow to globalized production.
To be honest, 3D printing at the moment is a slow process, with inconsistent yields. It can not compete with the speed and scale of traditional production. But change is expected, large investments to make 3D printing the main production method, greatly increasing its speed. All this provided that politicians do not kill this trend with unnecessary regulations.
Read like this, this analysis of the near future seems quite realistic, what do you think?