There's no doubt that 3D printing will make the greatest contribution to the next industrial revolution and may impact almost all sectors of our lives including manufacturing, global economy, business as well as consumption patterns. Here are some of the key sectors likely to be greatly affected by the 3D printing.
3D printers are slowly replacing traditional manufacturing and plans are currently underway to replace product parts with 3D printing which only utilizes the raw material needed to create an object thus emitting less waste and carbon. When a 3D product malfunctions it does not have to be thrown away entirely, as it has been the case with most traditionally manufactured products. 3D printing also makes it easy for products to be manufactured and assembled locally and on a needs-basis unlike traditional manufacturing which requires products to be created in bulk, and assembled before shipping. This way companies do not end up with a pile of unsold products as it is the norm with traditionally manufactured products.
Art Media for Museums
3D printers are being used to create better types of modern art such as headdresses, as well as replicas of already existing pieces which are not accessible to everyone around the world. Such pieces are then preserved in museums, for instance the 3D replicas of Van Gogh paintings found in the Van Gogh museum in Amsterdam.
3D printers have been introduced in a number of schools to enable children see innovation and manufacturing in a new perspective. Some colleges and universities, like University of Michigan, have already started using 3D printers and scanners in various technical departments such as engineering, art and architecture as a way of encouraging growth and innovation in these fields.
One of the most advanced uses of 3D printing is in astronomy and international space stations. The process is used to create equipment used by astronauts in their space explorations. Work is currently underway to launch the first 3D printer in space that will be used to manufacture parts in zero gravity and make space missions more self-sufficient.
With the adoption of large scale printers that facilitate faster production of parts, 3D printing will soon replace traditional manufacturing completely in various mass manufacturing industries such as food production, processing of military machinery, electronic production and also manufacturing of toys and automotive parts.
Medicine and Healthcare
Bioprinting is the fastest growing form of 3D printing utilizes ink-jet style printers to make living tissues. The bioprinting company Organovo, intends to commercialize 3D liver tissues and has also partnered with prominent eye companies to print eye tissue. Researchers at the Houston Methodist Research Institute have also invented block cell printing, a process that creates body cells in a more efficient way.
Smaller and more affordable home 3D printers have been created for use in creating household goods, jewelry and any other tools in different shapes, sizes and color. Such printers can also make replacement parts for most home appliances instead of them being bought and shipped, making production cheaper.
Connecting Markets Worldwide
3D printing has made it possible to maintain developing countries on the global supply chain, which has been impossible for a very long time. There are 3D printers designed specifically for developing countries, which will assist in manufacturing clothing, and other products not easily found in such countries such as prosthetic limbs. Such work will be done with the help of 3D researchers.
The Global Economy
According to experts from Artonery, 3D printing industry is expected to have a great impact on the global economy by 2025. Some of the new changes will include cheaper systems, better product development cycles as well as a shift of focus to customer centered product creation. And a reduced cost of entry into global markets.
Intellectual property threats
Most of the designs we have today are not protected by any law thus can be easily copied and sold by anyone. 3D printing has made it easier to replicate existing designs, which are mostly improved on and localized to suit people of a particular area. Most established companies have had problems with such procedures as they view it as a violation of intellectual property laws.