The promise of a 3-D-printed world is becoming reality

The promise of a 3-D-printed world is becoming reality
The promise of a 3-D-printed world is becoming reality

Rush into print. More companies are using additive manufacturing, aka 3-D printing, to make parts and products that consumers can use. The technology dangles the promise of solving supply chain and sustainability challenges, while making it easier to personalize products (think 3-D-printed dentures or implants) and lower the cost of innovation.


One CEO of a 3-D printing company believes the technology will bear much fruit in the coming decade. [Fast Company]

Home, sweet printed home. 3-D-printed house frames require far less labor and a simplified supply chain, making them a promising solution for affordable housing. A handful of companies and NGOs are already using the technology, but it may take five to ten years before it becomes commonplace. Don’t expect all home-building costs to plummet: windows, plumbing, HVAC, and electrical systems will still require custom labor. [PBS]
Manufacturers must build the skills, processes, and business models needed to make additive manufacturing shine in the industrial world.
Decades of progress. Additive manufacturing (AM) has been a long time coming: the first commercial machines were developed 40 years ago. By 2020, the sector had grown into a €13.4 billion industry with a 22% annual growth rate and 200-plus companies developing new hardware, software, and materials. Parts can now be made faster, from a wider range of materials (including high-strength aluminum alloys and medical-grade polymers), and with more sophisticated, AI-supported systems.
Dimensional improvements. Faster machines, better materials, and smarter software will help make 3-D printing a realistic solution for many real-world applications. One standout sector already demonstrates the industry’s potential: the medical-devices industry, where AM technologies are now applied routinely to produce prosthetics and implants. As AM works out issues that concern manufacturers—including slow printing speeds and expensive materials—more industries are likely to follow suit.