3D printing could have negative impact trade: Fitch Ratings
A NEW report by Fitch Ratings has painted a gloomy picture on s 3D printing (3DP) saying that it may 'negatively affect the transportation industry's revenue'
A NEW report by Fitch Ratings has painted a gloomy picture on s 3D printing (3DP) saying that it may 'negatively affect the transportation industry's revenue'.
Sometimes called additive manufacturing, 3D printing may lead to a reduction in net goods transportation 'because it requires less labour than traditional manufacturing and, therefore, could reduce reliance on lower-wage countries for product assembly.'
The report added: 'In addition, as mass production via 3D printing becomes more economically feasible, supply chains could be shortened with more manufacturing done near company headquarters.'
3D printing allows parts to be built up by adding small particles of material such as plastic resin, metal or ceramic instead of taking blocks of materials and milling them or moulding or casting parts. GE, for example, is manufacturing turbine blades for jet engines using 3D printing.
Fitch said it expects the nascent technology to grow significantly over the next 20 years, potentially reaching an industry value as high as about US$600 billion, or about three per cent of total global manufacturing, 'with a materially higher share for products that are well suited for 3DP.'
Fitch, however, said that the 'disruption risk is limited in the short to medium term.' It added that if and when disruption happens, 'ports may be the most affected.
'A significant portion of US imports from China are products that, in our view and based on recent technological advancements, are well suited for 3DP, including machinery and electronic equipment such as computers and mobile phones,' it said.
Fitch expects that 20 per cent to 50 per cent of these goods can be produced domestically, which it said could result in a reduction of 10 per cent to 25 per cent in US imports from China.
'We also expect trade relationships between countries in other regions such as Europe, the Middle East and Africa, Asia and Latin America to be affected,' Fitch said.
Fitch said increased protectionism also could be a catalyst for more businesses to adopt 3D printing as a manufacturing process, American Shipper reported.