According to a recent report from MarketsandMarkets, the 3D printing field is expected to become an $8.4 billion industry before 2020, representing an increase of more than 14% annually. This growth will be fueled by the way that additive manufacturing can change the future of technology in dozens upon dozens of industries. Here are some things that you will likely see in the next few years.
Automotive and Industrial Manufacturing
In many industrial manufacturing fields, and namely in the automotive sector, manufacturers must create dozens upon dozens of small parts in order to manufacture a larger part. In the future, 3D printing is expected to help these manufacturers consolidate some of these components to shorten production time. What’s more, the technology will also help manufacturers design and create production tools, spare parts, and more. It is also expected to increase the overall cycle of product development and prototyping.
3D printing is expected to greatly benefit the aerospace industry, as well. For instance, despite the complexity of much of today’s manufacturing tools, there are some complex geometric parts that this machinery just cannot create. 3D printing will bypass this, allowing any design that can be created via a computer program to be translated into a 3D model. The 3D printing industry will also help manufacturers control the stiffness, density, and other material properties of the parts used in planes, rockets, and shuttles.
3D printing is already a huge part of the medical industry as it allows surgeons and doctors to create tissue replacements used in surgeries around the world. In the future, you will see medical schools using 3D printers to create cadavers used for training, and pharmaceutical companies right now are learning to “bioprint” live tissues that will become invaluable resources for testing new drugs.
The potential use for 3D printing in general retail industries is absolutely endless. Imagine purchasing a toy from a boutique, only to have it break a few months later. Now, imagine being able to salvage that toy by returning to the boutique, where they can 3D print a replacement part. The technology will also allow retailers to custom create jewelry, decorations, and more all from customer specifications.
Sports and Fitness
Finally, 3D printing is expected to have a tremendous impact on a variety of sports and fitness applications. For instance, it can be used to create player-customized protective gear that fits better and thereby provides more safety. 3D printing may be used to create custom cleats for shoes based on collected data. What’s more, it can create prototypes for products that contain a variety of colors, materials, and textures for the purpose of testing.
As you can see, the possibilities of 3D printing are truly endless. The technology is gaining popularity with every passing day, and engineers and developers are constantly finding new ways to use the technology to improve upon almost every industry imaginable. Before long, 3D printing may be as common in households as the modern computer or smartphone.