What is in this article?:
- Technology: What's Next for 3-D Printing?
- Six Predictions for 2014
It's safe to say that in 2013, 3-D printing has changed manufacturing. Its impact is clear from product development to finished goods, from innovation to production. But that's only the beginning...
Additive manufacturing has been on the tip of every techie's tongue for years. But in 2013, it was finally at our fingertips, too.
Last year marked the 30th anniversary of the world's first 3-D printed part, and the industry celebrated by bringing additive manufacturing straight into the global mainstream.
In 2013, we saw machines pop up everywhere from SkyMall to the neighborhood library while printing services expanded from high-tech boutiques to UPS and Staples. Even McDonalds might jump in.
Meanwhile, 3-D printers have invaded R&D departments across the industry; they have crept into schools and hospitals, fashion shows and restaurants.
On the industrial side, last year GE (IW 500/6) laid out plans to print some 45,000 fuel nozzles a year for its new LEAP engines, while NASA printed everything from nozzles to pizza.
So it's safe to say that in 2013, 3-D printing has changed manufacturing. Its impact is clear from product development to finished goods, from innovation to production.
But that's only the beginning.
According to the Wohlers Report 2013, over the next seven years additive manufacturing is expected to grow into a $10.8 billion industry as prices fall, machines proliferate and applications abound.
As this boom continues, the industry will see rapid, tumultuous changes as it finds new uses, new limits, new materials and new problems to overcome.
To help shed light on some of these changes, Terry Wohlers -- president and principal consultant of the 3-D printing industry analysis firm Wohlers Associates -- offers a few predictions of things to come in 2014.