As 3D printing is expected to be more affordable in time to come, businesses should start experimenting with the myriad of ways to monetise them, including improving traditional product design and prototyping.
According to Gartner’s report, enterprise-class 3D printers will cost less than US$2,000 by 2016 due to a lower entry cost into manufacturing with the continued development of the material science behind 3D printing processes and materials.
“Businesses must continuously monitor advances to identify where improvements can be leveraged. We see 3D printing as a tool for empowerment, already enabling life-changing parts and products to be built in struggling countries, helping rebuild crisis-hit areas and leading to the democratisation of manufacturing,” said Pete Basiliere, research director at Gartner.
Currently, many businesses from various industries – including automotive manufacturing, consumer goods, military, medical and pharmaceutical – are already leveraging on 3D printing.
It is being used to design personalised products, components, working prototypes and architectural models to promote their brand and products in interactive ways.
By being an early adopter, companies can gain an advantage in product design and time to market over their competitors while understanding the realistic material costs and time to build parts.
Gartner believes that the commercial market for 3D print applications will continue to develop to meet the needs of consumers and that 3D printing will be available via kiosks or print-shop-style services.
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