A report developed by financial services agency ING is issuing a dire warning about 3D printing: by the year 2060, this technology could wipe out 25 percent of global trade.
According to its research project titled, ominously, “3D Printing: A Threat to Global Trade” ING predicts that in 40 years, half of all manufactured goods will be 3D printed. While the technology over the past decade or so has been highly publicized but slow in adoption, experts predict a shift coming where the cost-benefit of 3D printing becomes highly favorable for both businesses and consumers.
That said, this news may not be as scary as it sounds.
The report cites industries like automotive, industrial machinery, and consumer products as those who will be most active in the sea change. It goes on to say that these industries’ roles in global trade will decrease America’s need to import, easing trade deficits with countries like Mexico and China. So, essentially, while 3D printing takes some labor out of the scenario, it’s likely to be the low-cost production and assembly work that is currently being done elsewhere.
ING also says that locally printed car parts would actually provide for an increase in jobs at American car factories. Because the use of 3D printing could do so much to enhance efficiency, it could cause a spike in revenues that the report likens to what happened in the personal computer industry once productivity enhancements were fully embedded.
And, finally – 3D printing on a massive scale would cut waste of raw materials and re-work required due to human error, as well as reduce inventory, transport, and prototyping costs.
The full report from ING may be downloaded at this link: 3D Printing: A Threat to Global Trade.