The overall success rates of 3D printing use cases in emerging regions will escalate for three main reasons: the increasing ease of access and commoditization of the technology; ROI; and because it simplifies supply chain issues with getting medical devices to these regions. Other primary drivers are a large population base with inadequate access to healthcare, in regions often marred by internal conflicts, wars or terrorism. These thoughts are continuously mentioned during debates about 3D Printing and the future use of 3D Printing Technology.
Beyond the highly controversial medical market, 3D printing will also bring about major changes and challenges. Gartner predicts that by 2018, at least seven of the world’s top 10 multichannel retailers will be using 3D printing technology to generate custom stock orders, at the same time as entirely new business models are built on the technology.
“Some retailers are already selling 3D printers to consumers, and as they become more readily available, consumers could use them to ‘manufacture’ their own custom-designed products,” said Miriam Burt, research vice president at Gartner. “We also expect to see 3D copying services and 3D printing bureaus emerge where customers bring 3D models to a retailer or provider and have increasingly high-end parts and designs printed, not just in plastics but in materials including ceramics, stainless steel, and cobalt and titanium alloys.”
The rapid emergence of this 3D Printing technology will also create major challenges in relation to intellectual property (IP) theft. Gartner predicts that by 2018, 3D printing will result in the loss of at least $100 billion per year in IP globally.
“The very factors that foster innovation — crowdsourcing, R&D pooling and funding of start-ups — coupled with shorter product life cycles, provide a fertile ground for intellectual property theft using 3D printers,” said Mr. Basiliere. “Already, it’s possible to 3D print many items, including toys, machine and automotive parts, and even weapons.”
In this environment, businesses will find it increasingly difficult to fully monetize their inventions, and licensees of related IP will be less able to achieve the maximum benefit of their licenses. IP thieves will have reduced product development and supply chain costs, enabling them to sell counterfeit goods at a discount, while unsuspecting customers are at risk of poorly performing and possibly even dangerous products.
Who will regulate the industry? Where is the 3D Printing legal argument?