If you’ve been keeping up with the news, then you’ve probably heard about the threat that automation and similar technological advancements pose to a wide array of professions. While 3D printing isn’t slated to eliminate any jobs just yet, there are myriad industries that could be drastically changed or even eliminated by the rise of this impressive technology.
To give you an idea of what the future might look like, here are some of the industries that are poised to be impacted as 3D printing becomes more accessible and commonplace.
Sculpture and Art
Sculptors and visual artists have always had a place in our culture. Whether we’re looking at a touring exhibit in an art museum or gazing upon an amazing sculpture in a city square, society will always have a need for sculptures. However, 3D printing could potentially change how we create sculptures. Instead of an artist having to slave over one piece for months or even years, someone could easily sketch out their design and use a 3D printer to turn it into a beautiful sculpture. Instead of having to hire an expensive artist to create a piece for their city, local governments could just print the public art installations they want themselves.
Manufacturing and Specialized Parts
There are companies that make the bulk of their revenue just by producing the specialized parts needed in the manufacturing sector. However, when manufacturing companies invest in 3D printers, the need to outsource these parts disappears and all of the necessary work can be done in-house. Not only does this make their jobs a lot easier and faster, but the money saved can result in lower prices for the consumer. Companies that specialize in small parts for the manufacturing sector might want to look into ways that they can stay competitive as 3D printers become more commonplace.
No, we’re not likely going to start printing doctors and nurses. However, there are plenty of practical uses for 3D printing in the healthcare field. Many hospitals have already started using 3D printers to create the tiny tubes, connectors, and parts that can be needed during major surgery. Furthermore, pharmaceutical companies are using 3D printing technology to create pleasantly-shaped medications that can be more easily administered to children. While 3D printing has already been used to create prosthetics, researchers are working on how they could print actual organs, which would completely eliminate the need for organ waiting lists.
Custom Ordered Prototypes
When a company is toying with the idea of launching a new product, they’ll typically order prototypes. There are companies out there that are devoted solely to creating these samples of a product that a company is looking to manufacture. With 3D printing, however, these companies would be rendered obsolete. For example, if a toy company wanted to create a model of a new doll to present to investors, they could simply print one in-house, thereby eliminating the need for a third party to create the prototype for them.
A similar industry that may see itself eliminated thanks to 3D printing are companies that specialize in creating models for architects. When an architect drafts a design, the sketch usually isn’t enough to convince the higher-ups that his plan is the best choice for the project. Instead, architects create models of what their finished design would look like. The ability to create these models in-house would completely revolutionize how architects pitched their designs to clients. However, it would seriously hurt the companies that specialize in creating these models for architecture firms.
A Changing Business Landscape
While 3D printing is certainly slated to dramatically change the business and manufacturing landscape, no one should look at this trend with a sense of dread. While some industries may find themselves needing to market new services, the 3D printing industry itself offers a lot of opportunities for new jobs.
Remember, these machines still rely on human input. A 3D printer is not likely to take your job anytime soon. Don’t view 3D printers as a technology that you must compete with, but rather as a revolutionary new way to take ideas and turn them into reality.