Imagine a world where any product you buy (as an end-consumer or as a business) can be 3D-printed on the spot and in your hands or your warehouse in hours, 3D-printed before your eyes. Oh, wait, that is our world! Does that mean consumers and orderers of things can say goodbye to shipping?
Well, in this world of instant gratification, it doesn’t make sense to wait days, weeks, or months for a shipment that could be 3D-printed on the spot. Unless a 3D printer is unavailable, it is an extra cost in terms of time and money to ship products. Almost anyone can look forward to avoiding shipping cost, import duties, and opportunity cost of time spent waiting for a product shipment. These benefits are either here already or will become available very soon. 3D printing is coming to a location near you, and fast.
And sellers of things can benefit from the newfound efficiency, too! “By producing goods in the ordered configuration precisely when they’re needed, 3-D printing is ideal for filling gaps in the supply chain (which reduces uncertainty), keeping inventory low (which saves companies money on shelving) and reducing waste (which occurs when the goods aren’t sold).”
But there is one challenge, besides finding a printer nearby. “Printing with more than one material at once is difficult. A typical room might contain objects with 50 materials in various combinations. To print an object, not only would you need all the materials on hand in a printable form – you’d also need a printer with multiple or interchangeable nozzles. And each new material might need to be printed under different conditions.” Good thing the latest and greatest engineers are working even on 3D printers of multiple materials!