De-hyping 3D Printing; Assessing its Economic Impact

Not long ago, market research firm GARTNER declared 3D Printing to be at the peak of its hype cycle. Empirical evidence would seem to back this up. The hype is slowly being replaced by more critical examinations of additive manufacturing and rational attempts to discern what its true economic impact will be.

Fig 1 – 3D printing of a turtle.  A paradox of high tech methods producing low value products.

A recent and pleasantly sober article by Rose Eveleth in Smart Planet, poses the question: “Will 3D Printing truly revolutionize our manufacturing economy?”

The answer: yes and no. The term “3D printing” comprises two very different worlds: hobbyist 3D printing, where people with relatively inexpensive machines print plastic objects in the comfort of their homes; and industrial 3D printing, which is usually referred to by another name: additive manufacturing. They are vastly different and will likely have divergent impacts on the economy. Both, however, are poised to alter the way businesses think about production.

For an excellent drill down on these two segments of the emerging industry, read more at Smart Planet, How 3D Printing Will Shape Our Global Economy.

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