3D printers allow people to create physical objects from digital data. Falling prices and greater ease of use will significantly change consumer shopping behavior, with important ramifications for the retail sector too. Imagine machines capable of producing, in a few minutes or even seconds, any object. Its technology that, until recently, was only really reserved for manufacturers, typically for creating models and prototypes. Now, 3D or three-dimensional printing is available to all.
Printing to order
Making objects using 3D printers is starting to become more widespread, thanks to many commercial models now available on the market. Getting exactly what you want is now so simple that anyone equipped with a 3D printer can order a model of something online and start printing. It could mean an unlimited choice of products and an end to delivery charges and stock-outs – a revolution for the consumer that could transform the retail industry.
The challenges for retail
Despite prices still being relatively high, sales of three-dimensional printers is booming. 3D printers, able to make complex objects, offer new perspectives to increasingly demanding consumers who are always in a hurry. Without question, retailers will have to embrace this technological breakthrough in the years to come.
The challenges of 3D printing for retailers are significant. It could undermine the accessibility and the commercialization of products, as well as their actual worth, not to mention have a major impact on data security and the risk of counterfeits. It will mean retailers having to completely re-evaluate and redesign their entire supply chain to take account of 3D printing.
Retailers taking the lead
There are already a number of retailers who are keen to keep up with this technological breakthrough by offering online and offline products to print in 3D. Following Jweel Jewelry and custom-made shoes by United Nude and 3D Systems, now it’s time for bras to be printed in 3D, by Joyfit, which ensures a perfect fit and bespoke styling at $ 99.99 a bra! The “3D revolution” is only just starting, with virtually everything available for printing (clothing, musical instruments, figurines, games etc.) and in any material (chocolate, wood, metal, plastic, silver etc). It seems there are no limits for 3D printing.
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