3D printing is reaching mainstream

Sunday, June 12th, 2011 by Roberto Saracco

I have been posting a number of news about 3D printing evolution. They were always pointing to the future, having found, at best,  practical application in fast prototyping.

Now time has come to talk about it in the present.

The hinge on the right is the one 3D printed

GE has just announced a 3D printing that can be used in the manufacturing of airplanes parts.

3D technology has matured to the point where it is overtaking classical production technologies and it is producing better parts at a lower cost, even when we deal with large scale production.

On the left the photo of two hinges, used by airplanes. The one to the left has been manufactured using normal technology, the one to the right has been 3D printed. You can notice how much more complex it is the structure of the one on the right. This more complex structure, that would have been impossible using normal production techniques, result in more strength and a lighter piece. That is just what we need in airplane manufacturing.

This is important for many fields since once you have a technology finding a way in the large production you can expect it to get better rapidly and being used in a wider variety of fields, including the mass market.

The conversion of bits into atoms will change significantly well established value chain and will multiply the number of “manufacturing” players, thus creating ecosystems.

Today we have already seen the multiplication of players in the apps development, (the latest announce from Apple indicated 425,000 apps that have created a revenue to tens of thousands of developer in the order of 2,500,000,000 $). Get ready to see something similar in the atoms department soon.