Even as the overhyped consumer 3D printing market continues to fall back down to earth, 2016 looks to be a breakout year for the industry as senior executives’ eyes and checkbooks are opening wide to the technology’s potential. The industrial market for 3D printing real end-use parts looks poised to begin its long growth run, with far reaching implications. 2016 will likely usher in 3D printing’s first “killer apps,” impacting both product design and supply chains. No matter what, 2016 will be a year when leaders across industries will be compelled to pay close attention to the emerging opportunities and disruptions that 3D printing is creating.
Here are eight 3D printing trends to watch in 2016.
1. Consumer Market Crush
Just last week, I visited the Consumer Electronics Show, where 3D printing companies focused on the consumer market showed up in full force. There was an endless sea of companies offering inexpensive consumer models, each looking identical to the next. It appears they may be late to the party. 2015 marked the end of the 3D printing consumer market hype cycle with Stratasys (the acquirer of MakerBot) taking massive write-offs and 3D Systems shutting down its entire consumer unit in December. With prospects dimming for the short-term consumer market, attention will quickly turn toward 3D printing’s area of greatest promise — industrial applications.
2. Pushing The Limits Of Technology
While GE and Ford have touted their rapid progress with 3D printing, many others are achieving some incredible accomplishments behind closed doors. There are more than a dozen secret projects that I know of that are truly pushing the limits of 3D printing technology. Look for exciting announcements about exotic new 3D printing materials such as glass and graphene and 3D printed objects that shatter the previous limitations on shape and size. Read more