Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Reflections On 3D Printing

Advanced Decisions recently co-sponsored a 3D printing and additive manufacturing panel discussion in Shelton, CT, which went great and opened my eyes to the astounding potential of 3D printing.

Here are some of the take-home points I gleaned from the presentation:

1. Not just about plastics. 3D printing can be used with all sorts of materials including metals, food and biological.
2. Biological 3D printing is on the rise, including capabilties for printing prosthetic body parts.
3. The focus isn't limited to creating mechanical parts but also new materials.
4. Found a niche in the market of replacing and repairing obsolete parts.
5. Ideal for rapid prototyping during new product development.
6. Manufacturing is undergoing transition from conventional to additive. Twenty years ago 3D printing could make 10s of units but can now make 100s and in some cases 1000s of units economically.

And if you're interested in learning more, here are some 3D printing articles I found useful:

US Navy considering 3D printers on carriers
3D printer saves a boy's life
NASA considering 3D printers