Last month, the International Bodyshop Industry Symposium (IBIS) Worldwide announced at the IBIS USA 2023 trade conference that it is launching a network called the 3D Printing in Auto Repair Task Force. IBIS Worldwide is, according to the organization, the world’s first (and one of the world’s only) provider of conferences dedicated to the collision repair industry.
The task force has several long-term objectives, with the most urgent one, perhaps, being the creation of a network of experts and industry professionals with knowledge, experience, and interest in the use of 3D printing for auto repair. Pools for prospective members include both the additive manufacturing (AM) field, as well as all the many subdivisions within the auto industry, from original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) to insurers.
From there, the task force’s action plan entails a multifaceted approach to establish and grow the R&D and validation of 3D printed automotive repair parts, and even mentions the goal of establishing a certification body for such parts. The membership already comprises a formidable list of founding participants, and the head of the task force is Harold Sears, who ran the AM division at Ford Motor Company.
As the scale-up of the 3D printing industry accelerates, this is exactly the sort of development that is going to become more prevalent, and exactly the sort of organization that is going to become more influential. Which specific organizations ultimately gain the most influence is going to be decided very quickly, too.
Unlike at the beginning of earlier major epochs in industrialization, “Industry 4.0”, as it is sometimes still called, is emerging in an era in which the internet already exists. This gives any group of interests with enough resources to fund the best social media campaign a virtually unassailable edge. That is not a barrier to entry for established entities, and it is an impossibly difficult one for newcomers.
As such, a group like this one, with members on its board from some of the world’s largest corporations, for that reason alone automatically has a high likelihood of succeeding. Moreover, considering that the group is intent on establishing the regulations that say what does and does not constitute a legally acceptable 3D printed spare car part, success in this case would be no small victory. Going forward, it should gradually become easier to pick winners in the 3D printing industry by paying attention to which smaller companies are brought into the fold of all the forthcoming trade organizations, lobbying groups, think tanks, etc.
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