Supply chain disruptions and 3D printing advancements dominated the headlines this year. 3D printing technology continued to show its ability to manufacture items on-demand while supply chain bottlenecks have affected the global community. Almost all industries have seen longer production times due to a number of factors, such as: a reduction in raw material production, part/component availability, reduction in labor, and shipping. 3D printing has become one option available to businesses as a way to limit manufacturing and operational downtime.
Supply Chain Disruptions
The COVID-19 pandemic is the root cause of the supply chain crunch around the globe. The different COVID-19 variants have led to prolonged manufacturing shutdowns which has put stress on supply chains and businesses.
The pandemic exposed the fragility of supply chains and has led many businesses towards reshoring their operations. Reshoring results in decreased transportation costs and the ability to retain more control over sourcing and manufacturing, which are extremely beneficial during uncertain times. Frequently, the one downside to this is an increase in operating expenses. However, with costs rapidly rising in China and other countries in Asia, the cost advantages of international manufacturing are quickly eroding. Flexible sourcing strategies and adaptable operation plans are going to be the key to success for businesses during these challenging supply issue times.
For obvious reasons, fixing the supply chain bottleneck is important for many reasons. Higher costs of containers, shipping, hauling, and storage lead to higher consumer prices and overall inflation. The Fed is banking on the transitory nature of the bottleneck, expecting prices to level off once the supply chain is cleared. (Forbes)
3D Printing Advancements
3D printing technology, commonly referred to as additive manufacturing, has been a technology full of promise for businesses. The highly customizable nature of 3D printing means that products can be tailor made to fit different people and situations. However, up until recently there really hasn’t been a united push to integrate 3D printing into daily operations.
The pandemic really brought 3D printing into the limelight. Whether it was 3D printing medical components, PPE equipment or filling in for other manufacturing operations, 3D printing technology proved that it was up for the challenge and delivered. This year we have seen updated software along with mergers and acquisitions, which shows us that 3D printing is poised to advance even further in the coming year.
Entrepreneurs just getting their business up and going are learning quickly that the manufacturing phase of product development is its own “beast”. With the supply chain crunch, finding a manufacturing partner comes with a new set of challenges to overcome. Forward thinking entrepreneurs are looking towards 3D printing to help get their business off the ground.
We can certainly say that 2021 kept us all on our toes. We are looking forward to what the new year has in store.
3D Innovations is a Product Development Company – from the 3D Design to a fully functional 3D Prototype & Product.