What If 3D Printing Was 100x Faster? | TED Talks

Chemical companies

3D printing Oct15Major change is underway in manufacturing and supply chains.  China’s slowdown has exposed the myth that its demand would support ever-increasing production of commodities such as metals and oil.  As the Financial Times reported yesterday:

“Back in the summer, Glencore’s combative chief executive Ivan Glasenberg led a chorus of mining executives in blaming speculative funds for driving down the price of metals, despite what they claimed was strong demand.

“Four months later there is still no end in sight for the price collapse, even as those same miners have cut production in an effort to tighten supply. Commodity indices are now trading down at the levels they were before the China-driven supercycle started in the early 2000s”

This, of course, is the Great Unwinding of policymaker stimulus in action.  It raises major questions for any business seeking to adapt to the New Normal world, as we plan to cover in the 5 Critical Questions Study with ICIS.

As a result, companies need to look for new business models, which will allow them to innovate and grow their businesses, without taking on enormous financial and market risk.  Instead, they need to be able to develop small-scale pilot projects, which can then be rapidly scaled up when successful:

  • One answer to this for businesses operating batch processes is to move to continuous processing.  ICIS Innovation Award-winner NiTech Solutions (where I am chairman) is one example of this trend in action, with major companies such as Bayer now undertaking detailed appraisal work
  • Another key area is the rapidly developing world of 3D printing.  This is sparking a supply-chain revolution, where automotive and aerospace manufacturers are moving towards a manufacturing model where spare parts are printed locally to order, rather than held centrally for years in warehouses
  • Aircraft manufacturer Boeing already makes several hundred types of aircraft parts using 3-D printing, including air duct components, whilst miners such as Rio Tinto and Iluka are also developing new technologies that will, for example, lower the cost of producing titanium dioxide and make it affordable for 3-D printing

One exciting feature of these developments is that the pace of change is accelerating, as this TED talk from Prof Joseph DeSimone highlights.  He describes how 3D processes are now speeding up quite dramatically – with targets of being 25x – 100x faster that currently.

His talk also highlights how 3D processes are close to being able to use polyesters, polyurethanes and other common materials.  This confirms yet again that companies who focus on building new business models to exploit these new technologies will likely be big winners in the New Normal world.



Oil price forecasts based on myths, not proper analysis


Did your company or investment manager use $50/bbl as a forecast Scenario price ...

Learn more

China's total lending declines as shadow sector squeezed


Go, go, go, said the bird: human kind Cannot bear very much reality. Time past a...

Learn more
More posts
Chemicals in the eye of the storm as UK heads for a WTO Brexit on 1 January

On Friday, the UK premier confirmed what many of us have expected for a long time. There is unlikely...

Chemical industry has key role in helping to create a more sustainable world

The chemical industry has a critical role to play in enabling the world to “build back better&...

Local circular plastics solutions to replace mega projects business model

NEW YORK (ICIS)–There will be a paradigm shift away from mega crackers producing massive volum...

Reshoring set to create Winners and Losers as advanced manufacturing takes over

Not many companies still operate in the same way as 500 years ago, or even 50 years ago. But in manu...

Polyethylene’s crisis will create Winners and Losers

Polyethylene markets (PE) are moving into a crisis, with margins in NE Asia already negative, as I h...

Day of reckoning approaches for US polyethylene expansions, and the European industry

Planning for future demand in petrochemicals and polymers used to be relatively easy during the Baby...

Stormy weather ahead for chemicals

Four serious challenges are on the horizon for the global petrochemical industry as I describe in my...

Ethane price hikes, China tariffs, hit US PE producers as global market weakens

Sadly, my July forecast that US-China tariffs could lead to a global polyethylene price war seems to...


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