Printing the Future: How 3D Printing is Changing Manufacturing

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The accelerated rise of 3D printing over the last decade is driving big changes across the business world. What once initially seemed a niche novelty pulled straight from the pages of science fiction has steadily grown into a revolutionary technology that’s being adopted by cutting-edge businesses around the globe.

There’s no denying it’s a real game-changer, but as 3D printing technology pushes further into the mainstream, what kind of impact will it having on manufacturing and the job market? Here’s a look at five job-related trends emerging in the 3D printing space.

1. It’s driving new startups and emerging job markets.

From 3D printing boutiques that offer on-demand services to new companies aiming to make innovative use of the technology, 3D printing is helping to create new opportunities for tech-centric job seekers. Many existing manufacturing operations and businesses have also turned to 3D printing to create specialized components, unique prototypes, in-house tools, and even entire standalone products.

As the type of uses for 3D printing expand and evolve, expect this growth to create both new jobs and opportunities for upward mobility in existing jobs.

2. It’s increasing demand for design-focused jobs.

The ability to rapidly create a physical product prototype at a significantly faster speed and reduced cost is a huge boon to creative businesses and manufacturing operations alike. As more industries and big businesses adopt 3D printing for a wider range of uses, we’ll naturally see greater demand for designers with experience in CAD, 3D modeling, animation, rendering, and related disciplines. Design skills that tie into manufacturing and engineering 3D printed materials will be particularly valuable to employers.

Of course, designer aren’t the only workers who will benefit from 3D printing. There will also be a need for skilled technicians to maintain and repair the high-tech 3D printing machinery, creating more peripheral opportunities on the job market.

3. It’s providing opportunities for designers to specialize.

The sheer range of different commercial industries putting 3D printing technology to use is incredibly diverse. From airplane and auto manufacturers to jewelers and medical companies, each trade has its own distinct nuances and special needs to consider. While some skills apply in a more general sense, there’s a big difference between designing an automotive part and printing a medical device that might be implanted in a living being.

As such, there’s a lot of room for designers to niche-down and offer more specialized expertise and services within a given field or industry.

4. It’s creating other income opportunities for savvy designers.

The price of non-commercial retail 3D printers has dropped significantly in recent years, making it a more affordable piece of household tech that’s accessible to tech-savvy users outside of the business world. Since the average person doesn’t necessarily have the skills needed to create 3D printable objects designs, many are looking to the Internet to find fun and interesting object patterns they can print at home.

This is creating a burgeoning market for designers willing to produce and digitally distribute high-quality 3D printable designs. Digital marketplaces are beginning to spring-up online, offering opportunities for designers to earn royalties for their designs. Entrepreneurial designers will be able to earn additional income while honing their chops for more traditional job opportunities.

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