London - Ports may be most exposed to disruptive effects of 3D printing (3DP) on transportation infrastructure assets over the next 20 years, according to Fitch Ratings. 3DP could reduce global trade, including reducing US imports from China by 10%-25%. Short- and medium-term risks are limited due to a still emerging technology uptake.
Fitch expects 3DP to grow significantly over the next 20 years, potentially reaching about 3% of total global manufacturing. 3DP is less labour intensive than traditional manufacturing and could reduce reliance on lower-wage countries for product assembly, which is a key driver of the US-China bilateral trade imbalance.
The bulk of US imports from China are products that, based on recent technological advancements, are well suited for 3DP, in Fitch’s view. These imports include machinery and electronic equipment, such as computers and mobile phones. Fitch expects that 20%-50% of these goods can be produced domestically. The credit rating agency also expects trade relationships between other countries to be affected.