By Scott Dunham
Vice President of Research, SmarTech Analysis
It’s time to start looking at where additive manufacturing will go in a “post COVID-19” world. More precisely, what does the additive manufacturing industry need to do to capture the market’s reinvigorated appetite for digital manufacturing as the initial wave of stop-gap crisis support fades, but the impacts of the virus remain?
In the past few months, providers of various 3D printing solutions and technologies have been utilizing the rapid production capabilities of modern printers to produce critical medical components to provide adaptive care for coronavirus patients. This has put the global spotlight back on 3D printing to a degree that we haven’t seen for a few years, but the challenges with scaling 3D printing technologies and deploying them as an effective production tool haven’t changed. What happens from here?
It may take months for supply chains to recover and the economic impacts of government actions taken to mitigate the spread of the virus will likely last for years. COVID-19 virus will remain a threat after economies begin to cautiously resume activity, causing further potential for supply chain interruption and incentivizing a radical rethinking of long-term corporate strategy and structure. How will AM fit into this brave new world?
As we explain below, much of what happens in the AM sector in the next year to two years will be COVID-19-shaped. Some of this will be related to reshoring of industry to the US. We also believe that AM’s recent successes in the COVID-19 emergency may lead to closer links between “corporate social responsibility” programs and supply chains.