Why custom manufacturing is the future
Today’s economy is defined by impulse. The ease of online shopping makes life simple — perhaps too simple — for consumers to order products as soon as they want them.
Personalized ads are targeted at these potential consumers to encourage spending, and orders can be completed with just a few clicks. In many countries, packages can arrive at the buyer’s home or workplace the next morning.
But the ease of online shopping can lead to overspending, where people accumulate large quantities of products, inspired by special discounts and rewards programs. People often don’t need the things they are buying, but buy them anyway out of sheer convenience — or to have a wide selection of items available to them at any one time.
These consumer habits are reflected in the business world in traditional manufacturing practices. An excess of products are manufactured, and in many cases, an excess of products are bought. In the end, nobody really wins.
Traditional manufacturing For companies in the business of consumer goods, clothing, electronics and other products, the traditional approach to manufacturing is to create a lot of stock. Economy can be found in large-scale manufacturing, so the established approach is to acquire a large amo...
For companies in the business of consumer goods, clothing, electronics and other products, the traditional approach to manufacturing is to create a lot of stock. Economy can be found in large-scale manufacturing, so the established approach is to acquire a large amount of stock then aggressively try to market products to consumers.
Sometimes this works, and a product ends up in the hands of millions of consumers. But when it doesn’t, the business has to sell its product for its face value without making a profit — or worse, simply throw it away for scrap.
It’s easy to see why this is a high-risk strategy for businesses. If you make thousands or millions of units of a product without knowing consumers will buy it, there’s a good chance you’ll lose your money. That’s why some companies end up shutting down when their products are a massive commercial failure.
And badly run businesses aren’t the only losers in this situation. When a company employs a factory to create millions of unsuccessful products — think Google Glass, the Sega Dreamcast or bootcut jeans — it causes a huge amount of material wastage and carbon emissions, ultimately harming the natural environment for no good reason.
It’s up to CEOs to judge whether traditional mass manufacturing is worth the financial risk. But taking into account climate change, it may be simply unethical.
An example of when traditional manufacturing goes wrong:
A modern example of overproduction came directly from the Covid-19 pandemic. Back in March–April 2020, there was a global shortage of protective equipment, which inspired many businesses to build or purchase end-to-end mask making machines that can produce large quantities of single-use face masks with little downtime.
But with so many businesses rushing to obtain a mask machine at once, there quickly became an abundance of supply and a lack of demand. And with many civilians now favoring reusable cotton masks over disposable ones, many of these mask production machines are sitting dormant.
Custom manufacturing today
Published by 3E Rapid Prototyping Limited on Nov 05, 2020
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