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Why Should Property Investors Be Interested In 3D Printing?

March 7, 2011

Remember the paperless office?  The dire warnings of the collapse the office space market?  Though the collapse has not happened, the office space market has been augmented by the storage facility market, and new standards for offices – with ceilings and floors for cabling of PCs, and very little storage space  – have emerged.

Meanwhile, online shopping is now part of the mix, only 10 years after the dot.com bubble burst!  This is having an effect on property in town and city centres, and the growth of retail parks convenient for picking up parcels ordered online.

But are there more technological advances which will cause even more changes in the demand for space?  Print on demand for books is fast approaching a comparable end user price to long batch printing and storage.

How fast will Kindle and other e-books replace books?  On any train or bus, take a count of each – and think back to a year ago – on my travels the proportions seem to have been reversed to a dominance of e-books.  What is the timescale on which book depositories will be only used for archival copies?  Or will they disappear completely?  What are the physical conditions required for storage of electronic files long term?  Are they different from those needed for print publications.

And 3D printing is now capable of manufacturing a clock – what space will no longer be required if spares can be printed instead of stored?  Thinking of aircraft spares, auto and truck spares, manufacturing plant spares – anywhere where the price of the part may be small but the knock on cost of part failure high.  And we can foresee the growth of portable manufacturing plants to print on remote sites where storage of a full range of possibly needed spares is prohibitive.  The analogy with steel mills, where within 10 years mini-mills revolutionised steel production, is real.

Written by Gill Ringland, CEO at SAMI Consulting

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