The Next Trillion Dollar Industry: 3D Printing

Posted on April 7, 2011


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This article discusses the implications of an already hot topic in ‘what’s next’ in technology – and how it could transform the manufacturing sector. Basically, it outlines 3D printing technological limits and capabilities, it’s future and what this would theoretically look like on a large scale.

Printing today takes three different approaches: rapid prototyping, specialty manufacturing and hobbyists. Rapid prototyping is used by designers in order to provide quick, rough prototypes – anything from buildings, cars and other machines. Specialty manufacturing fills a cap where some industrial components are costly – for example, prosthetics. Hobbyists is the third realm of active 3D printing – and possibly the future. As more individuals work together and explore the possibilities of this technology, the innovation will increase exponentially.

The benefits of a mass customization process, on a miniature level will only be possible once the price of these sort of prototypes follows the same path as computers in the 1970s – already models exist around $5,000. What happens when every desk includes a 3D printer – will this create a jobless industry? Looking to history, this hopeful take includes an industry that allows people to create more products – and following the trend that new industries create more jobs than destroy.

Most helpful, include a few startups and the large technology giants and their forays into 3D printing: 3D systems, Makerbot, Google, HP, etc.This is helpful to establish and explore what sort of implications that this new technology will have upon multiple facets of society, in addition to exposing us to leaders in this emerging field.

Submitted by Lauren Barnett

Posted in: Reviews