From the looks of things, 2016 is going to be a breakout year for additive manufacturing (3D printing)—in terms of industrial applications and global supply-chain disruptions. New materials and 3D printer advancements have accelerated the industrial applications for 3D printing (think GE and Ford). Simultaneously, these advancements have shifted the business landscape—supply chains are quickly transforming to meet new demands. In 2016 executives will be compelled to pay very close attention to 3D printing technology and emerging opportunities to inject it into their business to speed up product development cycles.
In relation to the consumer market, personal 3D printers will most likely see a decline, the short-term consumer market is inundated with inexpensive consumer models. However, the CAD technology that enables 3D printing will continue to become more user friendly. With advancements in 3D scanning and 3D modeling, the design technology behind 3D printing is poised to become more accessible.
Forbes recently published 8 Hot 3D Printing Trends to Watch In 2016 and while we agree with all eight points outlined, we feel that there are three, in particular, on the verge of major breakthroughs with significant business implications.
- Pushing the limits of technology. While 3D printing technology is decades old, notable recent advancements have propelled the technology into the mainstream. In the coming year, expect to see advancements in 3D printing materials—glass, recycled materials and metal, just to name a few. In addition, 3D printers are getting bigger (much bigger), as engineers as developers envision themselves ‘printing’ homes and large industrial parts in a single print.
- Outsourced 3D printing gains share. This is something we have seen in our line of business. More and more businesses are finding it beneficial to use a external providers to design and print prototypes. With 3D printer advances, external providers are able to quickly validate designs and print high-quality prototypes in hours, thus eliminating the headaches and hassles of printing internally.
- Virtual inventory becomes real. Producing parts on-demand is a game changer for businesses. Storing large quantities of a product is costly, and with technology today, it’s becoming obsolete. The cost savings associated with virtual inventory is sure to grab the attention of executives. Cloud-based virtual inventory is one way the supply-chain is shifting and moving more towards a supply-network.
3D printing technology is fundamentally changing the business landscape and 2016 is sure to be another exciting year.
Cheers to 2016!
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3D Innovations is a Product Development Company – from the 3D Design to a fully functional 3D Prototype & Product.