The Exciting Future of 3D Printing

April 24, 2018


We’re watching a pretty exciting future shape up for plastic, but that’s not the only thing on the horizon for the packaging world. We’re anticipating some major innovations in the manufacturing process that could change our entire landscape — it’s called Localized-Additive-Manufacturing-On-Demand.

Anyone still out there after that doozy of a name?

Once you get past that tongue-twister of a moniker, LAMD is actually super interesting! You probably know it better by the name “3D printing,” but the implications of printing an object go way beyond printing little plastic trinkets, which is how the technology is largely being used today.

Take a look around the room you’re sitting in. That desk was carved out of a larger piece of wood. Those phones everyone is staring into are composed of tons of tiny bits that were cut out of larger sheets of metal, plastic and glass.

Pretty much everything you see on a day-to-day basis was manufactured by taking a jumbo piece of material, removing what’s needed to make the product, and scrapping the rest of the leftover material. LAMD flips that world on its head by only using as much raw material as needed for each individual product — that’s additive manufacturing, with no scraps to speak of!

The materials used in 3D printing are getting more sophisticated as time goes on. Printing with plastics are widely available, and the industry is busy working out kinks in the printing of metal as well. More substrates mean more complex products can be produced through this greener manufacturing process.

That eco-friendliness gets kicked up a notch when you think about the shipping implications. With 3D printers becoming more readily available to the public, it’s not hard to imagine a future where retailers print their own products as needed. If you want to buy an action figure today, it’s made in a factory then shipped thousands of miles to a store where you can make the purchase. One day your local store might be able to print that figure for you on the spot, leaving transportation and burned fuel out of the equation altogether! Localized and on-demand!

Alright, time to take your future goggles off. At this point, most of these exciting possibilities are largely hypothetical, but it’s hard not to get excited about how these innovations might shape the future of manufacturing. After all, when Ernest opened our doors in 1946 nobody could have ever predicted using a smartphone to order a package for same-day delivery. No matter how much time goes by, our commitment to Moving Packaging Forward never changes.

Check out our Ernest Challenge video to see how innovation has guided us every step of the way throughout our 70+ years in business!