I just finished reading an article over at Fast Company about a UPS Store in San Diego. UPS installed a $20,000 3-D printer at this location to test it out. It was targeted to small businesses and startups to assist them in building their products.
As far as tests go, this particular one passed with flying colors. In fact, UPS expects to install more 3-D printers into stores across the country.
The agriculture industry – and the ag retail sector in particular – should take note. The big "so what" about 3-D printing is that it has the potential to drastically reduce inventory needs. So the next time a customer comes in with a broken chain or worn-down seed tubes that need replacing, for example, the retailer would simply print out new parts instead of keeping them on hand or ordering them.
The 3-D print sector grew from 21% between 2012 and 2013, according to UPS Store’s small business technology leader Daniel Remba. "The growth in our stores’s sales of 3-D print services has been in line with that trend, and continues to increase as more consumers become aware of our 3-D print offering," he told Fast Company.
Like other technologies that start elsewhere and then wander into the agriculture industry (heard anything about drones lately?), farmers and others in agriculture will rely on 3-D printing someday, maybe even much sooner than we all realize. When that day comes, who will be ready?
For a longer look at ways 3-D printing could reshape the ag industry, click here. And visit the AgWeb technology discussion boards to start your own conversation about 3-D printing or other on-farm technologies.