While 3D printing technology, or additive manufacturing (AM), emerged more than 35 years ago, it has progressed leaps and bounds in recent years. In fact, it is estimated by Wohlers that the worldwide 3D printing industry is expected to grow from $3.07B in revenue in 2013 to $12.8B by 2018, and exceed $21B in worldwide revenue by 2020.
Using an array of materials, 3D printing can be done with ceramics, metals, wood, and living tissue. It has touched nearly every industry, including food, automotive, construction, space travel and medicine. PwC estimates 67 percent of manufacturers are already using 3D printing in product development. 3D printing, once thought to be science fiction, is now creating realities never before thought possible. Working organs, affordable housing, new hair follicles, cost-effective automotive parts, facilitating operations that were once inoperable are all among the by-products of 3D printing technology. Only time will tell where 3D printing will take us.