We probably do not realize that yet, but 3D printing is totally taking the spotlight nowadays. It might be a little bit too soon to say this, but prepare yourself cause the 3D printing has the potential to disrupt our world just like the e commerce has disrupted the retail business. For people that work outside of industries where manufacturing is central (such as the garment and fashion industries), the power that 3D printing could give these people to create what they want, and therefore shape their world, hasn’t fully been appreciated.
Here are the greatest challenges the 3D printing will have to face if it actually wants to go globally:
First of them is the intellectual property (IP) infringement and counterfeiting, which legally protects the creative ideas, designs and products of a designer or brand in the form of copyrights, trademarks or patents. The popularity of 3D printing might lead to the increasing availability of cheap 3D printers and a high level of counterfeit products, printing materials and design specifications for items ranging from bags, apparel and jewellry. Sure there are some solutions such as microchips in genuine items, but as long as there is market demand, counterfeiting will remain a problem.
The second challenge is the limitations of 3D printing. Since the technology suits better to hard materials over soft ones, and geometrical over organic shapes, 3D printing will not have a uniform impact on the luxury business. At present, 3D printing appears better suited for accessories such as jewellry, eyewear and watches.
The evolution of materials for fabrics in 3D printing has been slow and there remains a trade-off between stiffness, robustness and comfort. Because the technology involves fusing layers of melted plastic one on top of another, a 3D printed fabric does not behave the way a woven textile adapts its shape to the body. At present, 3D printing for fabrics is unlikely to disrupt the luxury apparel segment, which is projected to grow from US $1.8 billion to $60.7 billion between 2015 and 2024.