3D printing, also referred to as additive manufacturing (AM), has made significant impacts across industries. Since the 1980s and 1990s, when 3D printing first emerged onto the scene, this novel technology offered a promising future. In the mid-2000s, desktop printers hit the market, and industrial AM systems reached initial commercial maturity, thrusting the idea of 3D printed production parts into the minds of many. Now, 3D printing is utilized as a powerful technology capable of being used throughout the value chain. Applied alone or as a complement to traditional manufacturing methods, AM has proven to be a valuable solution, sure to give rise to future innovation.
The progression of 3D printing over the last few decades is a testament to the technology’s incredible benefits to consumers, designers, engineers and manufacturers. While traditional production methods have limitations in manufacturability, 3D printing provides unparalleled design freedom due to the additive method of building parts layer by layer. Because AM doesn’t require tooling, it’s a very fast production method, able to turn around parts within hours or days.