A recent study in the Journal of International Economics argues that additive manufacturing (AM) has had “positive and significant effects” on international trade for a number of sectors that have adopted the technology. Apparently, this is the first time that research on 3D printing’s impact on trade has been published in an academic journal.
The paper, titled “Is 3D printing a threat to global trade? The trade effects you don’t hear about,” is coauthored by Caroline Freund, an economist as well as the dean of the University of California, San Diego (UCSD) School of Global Policy and Strategy, along with Alen Mulabdic and Michele Ruta, two economists at the World Bank. Freund was also previously the World Bank’s global director of Trade, Investment and Competitiveness.
The study primarily focuses on hearing aids, the sector where AM has dominated the greatest share of the market thus far. At this point, 99 percent of the planet’s hearing aids are estimated to be printed, and the percentage has been about that high for some time now.
Thus, hearing aids can presumably give us the clearest picture of what happens to international trade in a sector, once it has adopted AM. Freund, Mulabdic and Ruta found that hearing aid exports rose around 80 percent in the places where the technology was adopted. The researchers also studied 35 other export products in other sectors that have begun to use AM, including prosthetics, aerospace, and footwear, and found similar results.
I think that very last point, concerning the potential for the technology to reshape supply chains, is the most important takeaway from the study. Lately, this is the attribute of AM that the industry as a whole has been staking itself on most, so having hard evidence of that is both crucial, as well as likely to spur further investigation into the same topic.
More broadly, beyond the purely academic implications, the fact that this can be taken as a sort of position paper on AM from the World Bank is perhaps of greater significance than the specifics of the study itself. This may seem overly simple, but I think that if the World Bank is praising something, it has a better chance of succeeding than most other developments.
Subscribe to Our Email Newsletter
Stay up-to-date on all the latest news from the 3D printing industry and receive information and offers from third party vendors.
You May Also Like
Snarr3D Introduces the First 3D Printed Golf Club Shaft
What started out as a class project could soon help golfers save a few strokes per round. Brothers and business partners, Patrick and Scott Snarr, have created Snarr3D, a golf...
3D Printing News Briefs, March 18, 2022: Amphibian Aerospace, Olympics, & More
Multistation signed a distribution agreement with BigRep, and JPB Système reports a major milestone, while Nupress will deliver amphibian aerospace applications with SPEE3D technology. HP introduced its new Single Cell...
3D Printing News Briefs, March 15, 2023: Software, Carbon Fiber Bikes, & More
In today’s 3D Printing News Briefs, Velo3D has released the latest version of its Flow software, and Horizon is opening up more micro additive manufacturing applications with a coating that...
Oilfield Services Giant Baker Hughes Taps Oqton to Increase 3D Printing Adoption in Energy
Oqton, a Belgian software company specializing in solutions for the additive manufacturing (AM) sector, announced that the company has entered into an agreement to develop and commercialize software for Baker...
Upload your 3D Models and get them printed quickly and efficiently.