3D Printing: The New Industrial Revolution

China, Company Strategy, Economics, Innnovation, Knowledge management, Technology


By John Richardson

MANUFACTURING via 3D printing could result in an industrial revolution as big as that which occurred in 1766 with the invention of the spinning jenny (see above).

“The pedal-powered machine allowed a single person to spin eight cotton threads at a time rather than just one,” wrote James Grubber in this edition of his Asia Confidential newsletter.

“The spinning jenny, along with the steam engine and better power looms invented later on, transformed manufacturing productivity. Increased mechanisation meant you could do much more with less.”

3D printing might also, according to Chris Anderson in his book, Makers: The New Industrial Revolution, result in another explosion in productivity and a surge in economic growth.

But in the interim, just was the case with the industrial revolution, manufacturing faces huge disruptions.

For instance, Grubber warns that:

1. As everyone had become a blogger today, everyone will become a manufacturer tomorrow. Supply will pour into the space. Every amateur handyman and inventor has the tools to run wild now.

2. Larger manufacturing companies will inevitably lose significant market share. They’ll have to adapt to a rapidly changing environment.

3. It will result in an abundance of niche products. Consumers will benefit from this choice, even if there’ll be too much of it!

4. Prices of mid-to-low end manufacturing goods could well come down. They did for newspapers, so why not physical goods?

5. Manufacturing supply chains will see substantial changes. Small producers will want small batches. They’ll also prefer not to hold inventory i.e. manufacturing on demand. And they’ll obviously want to reduce costs, such as transportation.

In a series of later blog posts we will look at what this means for China’s outsourcing growth model, and how 3D printing might also affect other developing economies.

And we will look at how petrochemical producers – those that can be bothered to think beyond the next set of quarterly results – should respond.


China Second Quarter Data Underlines Direction


By John Richardson ECONOMIC rebalancing in China isn’t working yet as this ex...

Learn more

Politics, Politics And More Politics


By John Richardson CHINA’s extraordinary economic growth is, of course, largel...

Learn more
More posts
China’s “Common prosperity” uncertainties multiply as we head into the unknown

By John Richardson DON’T SAY I didn’t warn you. This article in The Wall Street Journal confirms...

China provides major climate hope as latest IEA report underlines that it is all about the developing world

By John Richardson WHEN I worked for a UK local newspaper as a “cub” or junior reporter in the 1...

China’s less commodity intensive future requires major petchem strategic rethink

By John Richardson THE THING about the collapse of China is that, like commercially viable nuclear f...

China pulls multiple policy levers to fix energy shortages but don’t forget secular fall in demand

By John Richardson Executive Summary CHINA’S POWER shortages could fixed by the end of this month ...

China petchem project cancellations on “common prosperity” may not mean higher imports

By John Richardson IT IS BEING suggested that China’s “common prosperity” policy pivot, the bi...

China traditional Q4 petchems demand increase unlikely because of economic rebalancing

By John Richardson A NEW RESEARCH PAPER by economists Kenneth Rogoff and Yuanchen Yang underlines th...

China carbon limits and Evergrande tied together as short term growth challenges build

By John Richardson Executive summary THE LIKELIHOOD that 227,000 tonnes of China’s polyethylene (P...

Challenges facing China as it tries to bridge the rural-urban wealth divide

By John Richardson THIS COULD be the biggest event in our industry since at least the Global Financi...


Market Intelligence

ICIS provides market intelligence that help businesses in the energy, petrochemical and fertilizer industries.

Learn more


Across the globe, ICIS consultants provide detailed analysis and forecasting for the petrochemical, energy and fertilizer markets.

Learn more

Specialist Services

Find out more about how our specialist consulting services, events, conferences and training courses can help your teams.

Learn more

ICIS Insight

From our news service to our thought-leadership content, ICIS experts bring you the latest news and insight, when you need it.

Learn more