Yet again, 3D printing hits the mainstream, this time with an article in the USA Today on how 3D printing has already changed US manufacturing. Quoting Terry Wohlers (the trusted source for all developments, trends and future forecasts on additive manufacturing) and siting such companies such as Boeing, GE, and Audiovox, they illustrate some nice examples on why 3D printing is beneficial over standard manufacturing, even if the end cost can be higher.
A few highlights from the article:
• Production of usable parts (not prototypes) made with 3D printing products and services continues to increase every year: $1.7 billion in 2011, and predicted to represent 80% of the industry's $6.9 billion in revenue in 2019.
• The sales increase of 3D printers is in part due to the continued rise in the cheaper printers purchased by the DIY community, but the manufacturing industry accounts for the majority of this growth.
• 3D printing's cheaper labor costs (a few employees can run multiple printers) and quick product launches (no time consuming and expensive retooling) point to a trend of bringing back manufacturing jobs to the U.S.
• The U.S. government will spend $45 million in an additive manufacturing institute to help foster innovations in the industry, with the goal of bringing this to the mainstream.