Digital manufacturing—industrial 3D printing in particular—has catalyzed world-changing ideas since its inception. This year, however, the technology proved invaluable, moving at warp-speed in the face of unprecedented challenges when the world was overtaken by a fast-spreading virus.
When traditional supply chains failed, workforces were displaced, economies bordered on recession, and the sustainability of ecosystems and communities was threatened, digital manufacturing was there. 3D printing provided a quick solution for manufacturing disruptions, produced personal protective equipment (PPE) near the hospitals that needed it, created strong competitive advantages for business of all sizes, and through the sharing of open-source design files, forged deeper levels of collaboration.
For our future, this technology plays an indispensable role: Digital manufacturing is charting an entirely new course, driving one of the biggest transformations of our lifetime. The advantages shown in 2020 confirm its staying power in an increasingly uncertain world, and looking to 2021, four key trends will be critical for companies.
Impenetrable Agility and Economic Growth
Reduced tooling costs. Less downtime. Affordable customization at scale. Faster speed to market. Nearly unlimited iteration capabilities. During the first months of the pandemic, these hallmarks of digital manufacturing not only got PPE into the hands of distressed medical staff in mere days but also allowed companies, at the height of economic disruption, to keep their lights on and continue planning for the future. Research from McKinsey Global Institute found that 85 percent of C-suite executives witnessed accelerated digitization and automation in their businesses this year.
HP surveyed thousands of manufacturing executives