Back to the Future: How 3D Printing Brings the Manufacturing Industry Full Circle is difficult to go more than a few days at the moment without reading something about 3D printing. Everything from body parts to food can now be printed. I even read just this week that it is now possible to print an entire house. 3D printing seems to be the next "big thing" and will revolutionise manufacturing, and, whilst it may not replace mass manufacturing any time soon, for small runs or niche products it will be mainstream before we know it. So, this got me thinking: haven't we been here before?

Let's travel back to circa mid 1700’s. Back to a time when the cottage industry was in its prime with local communities being served by manufacturing from home. Typically by hand, goods were produced in relatively small numbers for the benefit of the people in the surrounding areas.

Then, along came the Industrial Revolution, starting initially with the textile industry. Small home-based manufacturing enterprises were swallowed up by the larger factories and plants. Machinery was introduced - I spent many an hour at school learning about "The Spinning Jenny" and other similar contraptions. The drive for bigger and better machines led to the advent of the steel industry and many other ancillary products and businesses. Very quickly a whole slew of new industries were born in diverse areas like Chemicals, Glass Mining and, ultimately, Transportation. The latter allowed raw materials to be used that were from further afield and, as importantly, the resulting products to be sold to new markets.

Today, that progress continues apace with improvements in technology and new industries being born... which brings us back to 3D printing. A technology that allows small manufacturing runs, produced locally and for the local community.

And so, the circle is complete.

We often hear "Why reinvent the wheel?" A reminder of the importance of not just looking forward but also keeping an eye on the rear view mirror. What is behind you may be incredibly helpful for the here and now or even the future.  

Market Research is often seen as just forward looking, but we are increasingly seeing clients using historical research to help them look to the future. Looking back at what was written 5 or 10 years ago can help form your go-forward strategy.   

Here at, the breadth and depth of our content has always been a cornerstone of our solutions. Over 700 publishers gives us the breadth and content dating back over 20 years provides the depth. As companies increasingly look to the past to determine the future, we are perfectly positioned to help you on that journey.

For more information on 3D printing, check out our related reports.

Market Research Reports on 3D Printing  

Thanks for reading!

Ray King
General Manager,

Topics: Manufacturing & Construction