3D printing is undoubtedly a game changing technology that changes the economics and scalability of manufacturing. But is it possible the technology is becoming overhyped?
Two stories today illustrate the opportunities and potential of 3D printing: a homemade SLR camera and NASA manufacturing its own rocket parts.
NASA’s experiment shows how precision, low demand components could be made. One of the problems with procuring parts like rocket engine injectors is that the production runs are low, so the manufacturing costs are high given there are no economies of scale involve.
Additive manufacturing, or 3D printing, also has the advantage that components can be manufactured in one piece rather than requiring assembly from a number of different parts. In turn, this reduces production times and errors.