Schuman Shorts #6: 3D Printing and its Impact on Trade | Martina Ferracane

Schuman Shorts #6: 3D Printing and its Impact on Trade | Martina Ferracane


3D printing is the process of making an
object out of a three-dimensional model and usually 3D printing works by
layering material one layer after the other and that’s why it’s also called
additive manufacturing. You have certain implications for trade, which are
important. First of all, you have no economies of scale, which means that each
object costs virtually the same as another one. So, you can have a small
tweaking in the product and printing a new product without having huge costs
for changing the manufacturing process. And this has also implication for example,
in the medical sector. Another application is that you have, you can create objects,
which are of complex shapes, which will be otherwise almost impossible to create
with traditional manufacturing. And you can have applications in jewelry, also in
bio-printing, which is printing of organic material. And finally, you can
create products by having much less waste for example, when it comes to metal
objects and creating for example, parts of the engines, or in cars, or in
airplanes. What are the implications for trade? For sure, the global value chain
approach could be challenged. You could have a reshoring of manufacturing and
shortening of the value chain by creating products next to the customer.
This would impact not definitely all products in the manufacturing but some
products such as the intermediary goods, products in metal and other products, for
which the customers have benefits from customisation. For example, shoes, glasses
and other medical products, which fit the anatomy of the customer.

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