For the past decade, industry leaders and journalists have been touting 3D printing’s potential to revolutionize manufacturing. But in stark contrast to this inspiring future vision, existing printers have for the most part been limited to prototyping and modeling. When will we start to see the industry deliver on the larger promise as a production-ready technology?
“The signs are all around us. For example, BMW recently announced plans to use 3D printing systems to produce serial and custom parts for its vehicles. Its Rolls-Royce Phantom reportedly features 10,000 additively manufactured parts, signifying the automakers overall confidence in the technology. Johnson & Johnson, meantime, announced plans to use 3D printing to personalize instrumentation and software for patient-specific healthcare devices. The technology is expected to bring innovation in a variety of related areas, including orthopedics, eye health and consumer products. And Siemens PLM Software has announced it is working on solutions to transform additive manufacturing (AM) from a prototyping tool into more of a full production system.”