In recent years the importance of 3D printing for manufacturing and product development has been increasingly recognized by both users and manufacturers in all industries. If you can automate some of the manufacturing process and make small items locally using 3D printer, you can save a lot of shipping cost, reduce storage space for inventory, and eliminate excess unsold inventory.
Paul Brody from IBM published a full presentation from his keynote at the Siemens Global Innovation Summit, regarding a new IBM's research about 3D printing. He emphasizes that "3D printing is more than a manufacturing technology, it is a software-enabled ecosystem."
In addition to printers, this ecosystem is also related to other elements: design applications that you can design machinery and items; open source CAD software; 3D scanner for creating real-time 3D models as well as crowdfunding websites. Digital design are assets to the companies that they can reuse it like software code in a much greater variety of product. Through online collaboration, "this emerging online community around 3D printing is giving this hardware technology the kind of exponential growth curve that's more typical of a software ecosystem." notes Brody. "Not only are people collaborating around designs, they are sharing their design and printers as well, rapidly expanding public access to this technology."
One example in the presentation is the amount of items being shared on Thingiverse. Not only the amount of items are growing, but the design complexity is increasing as well:
(Credit: Paul Brody)
According to Brody, the electronics industry at IBM is engaged in a major study of how 3D printing will change manufacturing and the results will be released later this year.
Posted in 3D Printing Technology
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