Remember the jaw-dropping episode of the Oprah Winfrey Show when she yelled out to each member of the audience one of the most iconic words on day time television- you get a car! And you get a car! Everybody gets a car! Thanks to the advancement and proliferation of 3D printing technology, amazing opportunities (even goodies lie ahead in the not so distant future). So maybe it’s not a car, but be assured there is still something for everyone.

Today, 3D printers have been used to create tools, human prosthesis, clothes and even food! Just pick whatever tickles your fancy.

But what’s 3D printing?

Of course, as the name implies, it is the process of making a solid 3-dimensional object through a digital file, using the appropriate software. Also called additive manufacturing, any object is created by putting up successive layers of materials.

3D printing can disrupt our reality, but what’s the implication?

The manufacturing sector will be considered the ‘most valuable player’, as the advancement of 3D printing will allow products to be cost-effectively tailored to the consumer’s needs. This sophisticated manufacturing technique is also environmentally friendly, simply because the process encourages lower wastage of materials. It also reduces the investment and manpower required compared to the traditional manufacturing process.

Let’s take a minute to break it down

In the case of conventional manufacturing, to get the desired specification, the product goes through the ‘cutting, drilling and milling’ process with the help of various expensive equipment. Plus, altering the product’s design or producing a different product would require the manufacturer to purchase new equipment and retrain the staff.

With the growth of 3D printing, a significant change doesn’t have to be made to the value chain when a product is altered. This should be music to the ears of manufacturers and entrepreneurs. They will also be intrigued to note that the best products to be created through the additive manufacturing process are complex and high-end objects like aircraft parts, racing car parts or even medical devices. For objects of this nature, the speed of production doesn’t matter, because more emphasis is placed on quality and precision.