3D printing: Beyond prototyping
Manufacturers are crossing the threshold from printed prototype to producing end-products. Along the way, they’re finding how they can leverage the technology as a transformative tool.
- According to a PwC survey, about half of US manufacturers believe that it is “likely” or “very likely” that 3DP printing will be used for low-volume, highly specialized products over the next 3-5 years--and about one in five predict the technology will be used for after-market parts production.
- Early adopters are finding that the technology reduces wasted material and enables production of parts that are often too difficult and complex to make through traditional manufacturing processes.
- Looking forward, 3DP’s potential seems poised to expand as new materials are developed as “inks” and printers advance to enable the printing of intelligent systems embedded with enhancements such as sensors, transistors, and microprocessors.