In today’s digital economy, many commercial printers are exploring new ways of keeping traditional print alive. While the data supports that print marketing is still one of the most effective ways to make an impression on the end users, companies are still investing in digital marketing. From competing with web brochures to mobile apps, print marketing collateral has definitely seen better days. So what’s the future hold for traditional printers? Say hello to 3D printing! Using computer software, a virtual 3-D object image is designed and then cut into two dimensional slices. These are printed, one slice on top of the other, until an entire three-dimensional object is built. The process probably sounds like science fiction, but it may soon become a type of printing Los Angeles and other cities will come to find as regularly as any other service available through a commercial printing company.
It’s Already Here
The fact is 3-D printing is already being used to manufacture everything from orthodontics and prostheses to soccer cleats. Plans are currently underway to print an entire house! In Europe, Staples customers can now upload design files they’ve created (or bought) and print their products instead of ordering them for delivery. Think how 3-D printing can save consumers money when it comes to packaging and shipping expenses.
Manufacturing at a Fraction of the Cost
In addition to saving dollars on the consumer side, commercial printing companies are using far less energy with 3-D printing than in traditional manufacturing. There is also less waste: while aircraft builders, for example, may end up wasting as much as 90% of their manufacturing materials, 3-D printing machines only produce what’s needed. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, over the next decade 3-D printing is expected to cut energy costs alone by 50% and material costs by a remarkable 90%, partly due to the reduced need for parts suppliers from overseas and because of access to inexpensive and reliable raw materials. These new age printers also don’t need to be attended, so production costs are lower. And since items can simply be printed on demand to order, the need for warehousing is reduced.
More Room for Low-Risk Creativity
Replacement parts are immediately available through 3-D printing, and these can be designed with interlocking pieces that eliminate the need for the added step of assembly. Traditional factories cannot create objects as geometrically and internally intricate as the new printers can. Now designers are able to quickly adjust product specifications and create updated versions. Therefore, there is little to lose financially in taking creative risks, resulting in greater innovations, with great new ideas becoming a product ready for sale in mere days if desired.
Growth Means Opportunity
When they first appeared, 3-D printers were more expensive, and their use was mostly limited to creating product prototypes, allowing a replica of the item to be fully seen and held in the palm of the hand. Today, however, the machines sell for much less, and according to Wohlers Report 2013, almost 30% of the $2.2 billion global 3-D printing market in 2012 was associated with the production of final products. Given this widespread use, the 3-D printing industry will create many new types of jobs in the near future; within the past few years, in fact, the White House created the National Additive Manufacturing Innovation Institute, dedicated to the mission of advancing the industry. Any business looking to employ this type of innovation, therefore, is just the type of printing company Los Angeles expects to see increasingly more of. Large and small businesses that use 3-D technology are exactly the kind of digital printing Los Angeles will embrace as the wave of printing’s future.