You don’t have to be a big fan of gadget blogs or venture capital blogs to know that there’s a lot of hype regarding 3D printing. People seem to be really excited about the future impact that 3D printing would have on consumers. Well, the truth is that it may not have that much of an impact on everyday consumers because it’s not like every Tom, Dick and Harry is slaving away at a hobby product in the garage. The real impact of 3D printing is a little bit more subtle but can still be quite revolutionary. One of the biggest hurdles in manufacturing, it doesn’t matter whether you’re a small scale or a large scale manufacturer, is modeling.
Manufacturing companies consistently roll out new models so they can stay relevant in the market and sell new products. The problem with coming up with prototype models is that it costs a lot of money to model a new product, whether you’re making a toaster or a car, you need a way to come up with prototypes very quickly and very cheaply. The hype behind 3D printing is that it can finally solve this problem by making prototyping cost way less than now— that’s true and there’s no disputing this.
Making prototypes or replicating old parts using 3D printing is being done now and it does save a lot of money. The problem is that not all prototypes need work with 3D printing. There are some prototypes that require moving parts, in other words, the unit itself has to work and this is where the hype doesn’t meet the real demands in 3D printing. Maybe it will do that in the future but currently, with its current technology by adding layers to each other to create a prototype, it is definitely still not there. There is a lot of truth behind the hype but don’t get carried away with it.