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7 Theses on the revolution of production

7 Thesen zur Revolutionierung der Fertigung (deutsche Version)

500,000 3D printers will be delivered in 2016, according to Gartner. After that, the market is expected to double yearly.

The following list explains the rapid growth of this development.

  1. 3D printing is a disruptive technology.
    It’s rapidly changing how, where and by whom products are being designed, constructed and produced, thus altering economical, social and cultural conditions worldwide.

  2. The triumphal march of 3D printing is starting in industries where additive manufacturing is already proving to be more efficient,
    faster, simpler, more effective, sustainable, affordable and customer-oriented (individual), and where it allows for more creativity than standard manufacturing. Additive manufacturing has successfully been implemented where

    • Individual, customer-specific manufacturing is required (dental and medical technology, hearing aids) or presents a competitive advantage (e.g. jewelry, clothes, shoes, automobiles)
    • Storage or material input are tied to high costs (e.g. metalworking industry)
    • Single-unit or medium-sized batch production determines the market (e.g. aviation industry, mechanical engineering)
    • Traditional manufacturing has proven to be unprofitable, technically too complicated or even impossible (e.g. individual car seats)


    • Investment decisions concerning new product developments have to be made (all sectors)

    Due to economic reasons, 3D printing will come last in sectors where serial production of simple products is carried out via fully developed machines.

  3. There will be a global market for production capacities:
    (Microfactories, macrofactories and home-based manufacturing)
    (e.g. Shapeways, iMaterialize, 3D-Hubs) with millions of new producers as more and more production sites with 3D printers are being set up all over the world. Marketplaces, tender platforms and stock markets for 3D production capacities will develop online. In addition to privately used 3D printers (personal manufacturing) and small 3D production service providers (microfactories), there will be big factories (macrofactories) that will, at first, use additive manufacturing for single sectors (e.g. Nike). This will have two direct consequences on production businesses:
    a. The question of in-house production depth (make-or-buy) needs to be reconsidered:

    • Should I switch from subtractive to additive manufacturing?
    • Should I implement my own 3D printers, or should I use external 3D production sites?

    3D production sites?
    b. Companies who continue to use conventional production methods will come under pressure due to competitors already having made the transition to additive manufacturing as well as completely new players (3D printing factories).

  4. The focus moves to the product idea, the design and the blueprint,
    while the actual production turns into a matter-of-fact, universally accessible resource.
    The exchange of the immaterial products is handled via globally operating service platforms (e.g. Microsoft/netfabb, Materialize, PrintrOS, Staples, Thingiverse).
    In other words:
    There will be a
    – Localization of production
    – Globalization of product concepts

  5. Driving forces determine the rate of production:
    3D printers are becoming
    – Faster (e.g. Carbon3D, Carima C-Cat)
    – More affordable (e.g. Liquid Christal, formlabs, Sinterit, Sintratec)
    – More efficient/versatile (INDMATEC, All-in-One-electronic-printer)

  6. Rapid Prototyping becomes “Blitz Manufacturing“
    You can develop a product idea today and literally go into production tomorrow.
    Suitable service providers already exist:
    As soon as the blueprint of a product is uploaded on i.materialize or Shapeways batch production can begin.

  7. Mass production becomes mass customization
    Customers appreciate individual products. Modern 3D printers are fast and flexible enough to produce in high quantities and at the same time create individual products (customer-specific mass production). See: “Für den perfekten Laufschuh setzt Adidas auf 3D-Druck