How 3D Printing Technology Could Change World Trade

Five Predictions on the Future of Global Trade

3D printers are used to fuse plastics, metals and other raw materials into new objects. The 3D printing process is a so-called additive production process that joins materials in layers. This means that only the material input is used, all of which ultimately flows into the manufactured product, without any waste.

The current production processes, on the other hand, are subtractive manufacturing processes. This means that the required materials are cut and processed (milling, grinding, filing, etc.), which results in the loss of material which rarely can be reused. 3D printing technology therefore leads to a considerable reduction in material waste. This means increased productivity and lower prices for the products manufactured.

Parts made using a 3D printer are also often more durable and lightweight than traditionally produced parts. For example, a component made with a 3D printer of a shock absorber used in Formula 1 is twice as durable and at least three times more durable than its predecessor (cf. Rosenbach 2016: 78).

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