Manufacturing the Future: The Top 10 Trends Expected in 3D Printing

In a report titled “3D Printing and the Future of Manufacturing,” tech business solutions provider CSC outlines the top 10 trends to watch for in 3D printing. “Once considered science fiction, the ability to do 3D printing — to produce objects on demand at relatively low cost — has become a reality,” writes Vivek Srinivasan and Jarrod Bassan in a Forbes guest post. “And the trend is going to pick up steam in 2013. Here’s a look at 10 trends to watch in 3D printing next year and beyond.”

1) Industrial strength: 3D printing will be applied to “the direct manufacture of specialist components in industries like defense and automotive.”

2) Saving Lives: “Because 3D printing allows products to be custom-matched to an exact body shape, it is being used today for making better titanium bone implants, prosthetic limbs and orthodontic devices. Experiments in printing soft tissue are underway, and may soon allow printed veins and arteries to be used in operations.” The technology could eventually negate the need for organ donation.

3) Customization: “Innovative companies will use 3D printing technologies to give themselves a competitive advantage by offering customization at the same price as their competitor’s standard products.”

4) Faster Innovation: “Because rapid prototyping using 3D printers reduces the time to turn a concept into a production-ready design, it allows designers to focus on the function of products.”

5) “New companies develop innovative business models built on 3D printing.”

6) 3D print shops pop up in local markets.

7) Debates: “Just like file-sharing sites shook the music industry because they made it easy to copy and share music, the ability to easily copy, share, modify and print 3D objects will ignite a new wave of intellectual property issues.”

8) “New products — that can only be created on 3D printers — will combine new materials, nano scale and printed electronics to exhibit features that seem magical compared to today’s manufactured products.”

9) 3D printing will be incorporated into factory production lines.

10) “Digital literacy — including Web and app development, electronics, collaboration and 3D design — will be supported by 3D printers in schools.”