10 predictions for 3D printing


What do you think will be the top developments in 3D printing in 2013?

Tuan Tranpham, North American Channel Manager, Stratasys Ltd., recently posted some of his predictions.

3D printing predictions

I agree with many of them. Consumer 3D printers probably have already surpassed the number of installed industrial 3D printers. I don’t see this number peaking in 2013, but it might peak in 2014 as the media hype dims. Unfortunately for many potential users, there is a lot of misinformation being published by media organizations jumping on the story, making claims on how 3D printers will print just about anything. There are limits to 3D printing capability. As more users discover those limits, the enthusiasm will dim, dampening potential sales, most likely of the consumer models. The industrial models have been out for more than 25 years, so engineers will continue to use them as their application dictates.

Will EOS follow 3D Systems lead and start buying other metal 3D printer vendors? It’s an interesting question. I would hate to see such consolidation, but it depends on the EOS business model. In the mean time, there are several 3D printing systems that print in metal from SLM Solutions, ExOne, and Renishaw. These companies have offices in the U.S., so if you’re looking to either prototype or produce metal 3D printed parts, check these companies out.

Now that 3D printers have been in the hands of a variety of users (makers, hobbyists, and professional users) will someone finally come up with the killer app that turn these printers into must have items in every home? I hope so, and I’m curious as to what it could be. It may not be a “thing,” however. Some people are commenting that the killer app is more about the process—to take command of your own creativity and see a physical result.

I’m not sure we need another file format. STL is still the standard format. AMF was developed specifically to handle the new features possible with recent 3D printing systems. What we really need is for both CAD software vendors and 3D printing manufacturers to offer compatibility with both. We won’t really know if AMF will be sufficient for 3D printing until more people have a chance to use it.

So what are your predictions for 3D printing this year? Drop me a line at llangnau@wtwhmedia.com


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