3D printing


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The Impact of 3D printing technology on business, politics and the environment :

The Impact of 3D printing technology on business, politics and the environment Thomas Chan


Throughout history, society is conditioned by technology. The state of technical progress determines t he range things that can be achieved during the period. Therefore, technology is always intertwined with social and economic development. For example: Farming and irrigation (the first formation of city states), steam engine (industrial revolution and urbanization), integrated circuits (the start of the information age with computers and the Internet) 3D printing have the potential to be the next revolutionary breakthrough that will change the world forever. T he emergence of 3D Printing technology will fundamentally alter the last two centuries of approaches to industrial manufacturing with massive political, economic, social, environmental, and security implications. Intro

What is 3D printing?:

Additive Manufacturing (AM): Create a product by adding layers on top of layers. Subtractive Manufacturing (SM): Create a product by taking away parts from a larger piece of material. 3D printing is AM, compared to traditional manufacturing, which is SM. What is 3D printing?

Implications for businesses:

Assembly lines and supply chains can be greatly down scaled or even removed entirely. Current industries require hundreds or thousands of replaceable parts to be shipped in from around the world before being assembled. The AM production enabled by 3D printing means that the final product can be created in a single process. The return to local manufacturing instead of the current trans-global network of distribution . Implications for businesses

Implications for businesses:

The transformation into an information/knowledge based economy. A design for a product stored in a digital file can be transferred electronically to be produced anywhere in the world, by any 3D printer that can meet the requirements. Instead of countries shipping products between each other, it will be designs and know- hows that gets exchanged instead. Just as the Internet eliminated distance being factor in transferring information with email (a written document can be emailed and printed out), AM using 3D printing eliminates it for material products (a standard template for a product can be sent to someone else with a 3D printer). Implications for businesses

Implications for businesses:

The elimination for the need of massive inventory and storage, since products can be easily created on demand. The ability for factories to change from creating one product to another with minimal cost. Since the only thing that is required for shifting from making water bottles to cutlery will be a since digital file with the new designs. Greatly lowering the barriers to entry for new comers to industry. Implications for businesses

Implications for businesses:

Copyright protection and patents will be put at risk. If the designs of a product gets leaked, it can be replaced by anyone with access to a 3D printer, in anywhere in the world. Implications for businesses

The greater political implications:

If 3D printing manages to de-globalize industrial production, multinational corporation will be able to put out their investment from manufacturing hub in LEDCs such as China and India, and back to the countries where the products are consumed. R educing global trade imbalances as the export surplus of MEDCs are reduced with jobs returning home. Post-industrial countries such as the UK and others in Western Europe can find themselves in a new renaissance. With a new economic model based on exporting their designs and expertise to other countries However, the reduced need for labor in industry will have a very politically destabilizing effect for emerging LEDC economics, with their cheap workforce no longer being a competitive advantage. The greater political implications

The greater political implications:

Difficulty in maintaining gun control Theoretically, 3D printers can create anything, including small arms such as guns if you have access to the designs. A group in the US has already attempted to use 3D printing to manufacture a working firearm. Although they were stopped before the work was complete, the possibility is still out there. The greater political implications

The greater political implications:

Potentially positive effect on the environment: The ‘de-globalizing’ effect on 3D printing can remove the need of transporting large amounts of products around the world. Lower the oil addiction of MEDCs . AM requires less raw materials compared to traditional SM manufacturing techniques, greatly reducing the overall carbon footprint of the manufacturing sector. The greater political implications


3D printing technology will have the potential to radically transform business and industry, which in turn, will have a huge impact on politics and the environment. Conclusion

Biography :

Beach, J. 2012. ‘ 3D Printing: The Most Disruptive Technology Yet?’. http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/justin-beach/3d-printer-technology_b_2834426.html [Accessed: 4 May2013]. Campbell, T. Williams, C. Ivanova , O. Garrett,B . 2011. ‘ Could 3D Printing Change the World?’. http://www.acus.org/files/publication_pdfs/403/101711_ACUS_3DPrinting.PDF [Accessed: 4 May2013]. Gehl , M. 2012. ‘ The Implications of 3D Printing’. http://www.khouse.org/articles/2012/1078/ [Accessed: 4 May2013]. Thompson, S. 2012. ‘ 3D printing is coming – so let's not strangle the industry at birth?’. http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2012/oct/16/get-ready-for-3d-printing [Accessed: 4 May2013]. Biography

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