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Additive Manufacturing/3D Printing May 5, 2016

Posted by cgreigmu06 in 2016 Trends.
  • Definition

Additive Manufacturing/3D Printing was not my first choice when I started out the semester during my initial researching trends for 2016.  The hot buzz words at the time were machine learning, cloud computing and big data.  All in their own right are very appealing, but what caught my attention with 3D Printing is it uses outside of the tech world.  The basic definition for 3D printing is that it is a process for making three dimensional objects from a computer file [1].  Using a computer program to create a 3D rendering file the information is passed to a printer that will be used to print each layer of material to make the 3D object.  The object can be anything from kids play toy to a skull replacement part or even a part on the international space station [2].  For 3D printing the options are endless and the technology is continuing to grow.

  • Scope of Potential Impact

The potential impact for 3D printing according to Gartner’s 2015 Hype Cycle is not only growing but is moving at an increasing pace and could influence many areas of computing [3].  Like in many areas of computing, 3D printing has been around for many years, the reason for its’s relevance now is due to the product becoming more affordable for both consumers and suppliers. The one area that 3D printing has the biggest impact right now is in the medical field.  There has already been countless of instances where 3D printing is being used to create various medical parts.  One of the most interesting uses of 3D printing was a recent story where a duck was given the ability to waddle again by having feet created for it through 3D printing [4].  This is just one example, but in the coming years there will be many examples that 3D printing was used not only to save someone’s life, but allow then the ability to do something that might not have been possible before.  This in itself is the biggest reason why 3D printing will have a long term impact and growth.

  • Evidence of Growth

From a recent spending guide from International Data Corporation (IDC), the 3D printing industry could grow from $11 billion in 2015 to $26.7 billion by 2019, which signifies a major market trend that could see a 27% annual growth rate [5].  As evident with the growth rate above you can see that this trend is impacting many areas of business [6].  Current areas of business are in the medical and aerospace field, along with market niches in everyday household products.  Though 3D printing will not fully replace current manufacturing practices it is evident that 3D printing can provide customers will more customized products that are made without waste, leading to a more useful long term product and growth.

  • Summary Statement

As with any trend growth is important and 3D printing has all of the parts to make it a successful trend and will be a part of the trending cycle for years to come.  3D printing is touching many different areas of technology with instances of 3D printing reaching outside of technology and having a positive impact on people’s lives.  Though there are areas of concern with 3D printing in regards safety, legality and privacy sharing.  3D printing can be a trend that leads us all forward in creating a better future.


[1] “What is 3D prining?” 3D Printing.com, available online at:  http://3dprinting.com/what-is-3d-printing/

[2] “3D Printers Reviews”, TopTenReviews, available online at:  http://www.toptenreviews.com/computers/3d-printers/best-3d-printers/

[3] Michael Shanler, Pete Basiliere. “Hype Cycle for 3D Printing, 2015.” Gartner. July 27, 2015.

[4] Bridget Butler Millsaps, “Phillip the Duck Gets Two New 3D Printed Orange, Webbed Feet & Waddles to New Life in a Sanctuary”, 3Dprint.com, May 1, 2016, available online at:  https://3dprint.com/132166/phillip-the-duck-3d-print-feet/

[5] Scott Grunewald. “Worldwide Spending on 3D Printing to Grow from Nearly $11 Billion to $26.7 Billion by 2019.” 3Dprint.com. January 25, 2016. https://3dprint.com/116562/3d-printing-26-billion-by-2019/

[6] “The road ahead for 3-D printers”, PwC, available online at:  http://www.pwc.com/us/en/technology-forecast/2014/3d-printing/features/future-3d-printing.html



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