3D printing has long been considered a tool to quickly design and make one-off prototypes. But as the technology is becoming more accessible, more affordable and more capable, it is beginning to redefine the way we think about manufacturing almost anything – and the way we run our businesses.
3D printing is sometimes referred to as additive manufacturing. While the terms are often used interchangeably, it is more accurate to call 3D printing a subset of additive manufacturing. In all, there are about seven different types of additive manufacturing and each is capable of making parts that cannot be manufactured by any traditional process.
Additive manufacturing is a $2.2 billion industry today and sales – both products and services – could exceed $6 billion by 2017, according to Wohlers Associates, a research firm that specializes in the field. … (Read more)