3D Printing Moves Toward Becoming Transformative Technology

    It’s easy to fall victim to the hyperbole that a particular technology is causing a “paradigm shift” and trot out other overused phrases to suggest that it is drastically changing the landscape. While this may seem to be the case with the fascinating and rapidly evolving world of 3D printing, recent advancements in the technology may prove that it is truly a game changer.

    For example, Global Research took a look at 3D printing. The conclusion drawn by Tony Cartalucci is that 3D printing may realign industries:

    Ultimately, technology will make it possible to do virtually anything for next to no cost. When technology reaches this point, the concept of big-business itself will be disrupted. And just as each individual disruptive technology is met with monopolists kicking and screaming to turn back the clocks and maintain the status quo, the disruptive paradigm of post-scarcity is also meeting resistance.

    That’s certainly an extravagant prediction that may take years to prove or disprove. What is clear right now, however, is that the level of sophistication of 3D printing is growing. Some recent examples: 

    Stratasys, an Israeli company, announced that it will soon make 11 high-performance 3D printers and related products available. New capabilities include triple-jetting approaches that enable three materials to be used in a single run; products for food processing and sterilization of 3D-printed medical devices; enhanced products for aerospace and automotive uses and the release of more usable materials.

    HP is taking a different approach, though. According to The Washington Post, the company is integrating 3D printing into its overall approach to its future business. Its new strategic vision goes under the name “Blended Reality.” It focuses on what, in essence, is a Windows PC (the HP Sprout) that can design in 3D. That design is then 3D printed:

    HP Sprout means that consumers will be able to create, design and manipulate 3D designs with their hands in an immersive environment. Once consumers have a 3D design ready, they will be able to either order their creation online from a 3D printing service like Shapeways or go into a retail location, where it will be printed for them using HP’s new Multi Jet Fusion 3D printing technology.

    The company does not yet offer a 3D printer, though HP is virtually certain to offer one in the future.

    3D Printing

    To further the 3D printing movement, Autodesk has unveiled The Spark Investment Fund, which will invest as much as $100 million in 3D printing companies during the next decade. Arch Daily said that the program is a companion to recently released Spark software, which is a free and open 3D printing platform. The company hopes to encourage development using the software, the story says.

    Early signs are showing that the technology pieces are being put in place very quickly. That, as much as anything else, increases the odds that 3D printing will indeed be a transformative technology.

    Carl Weinschenk covers telecom for IT Business Edge. He writes about wireless technology, disaster recovery/business continuity, cellular services, the Internet of Things, machine-to-machine communications and other emerging technologies and platforms. He also covers net neutrality and related regulatory issues. Weinschenk has written about the phone companies, cable operators and related companies for decades and is senior editor of Broadband Technology Report. He can be reached at and via twitter at @DailyMusicBrk.

    Carl Weinschenk
    Carl Weinschenk
    Carl Weinschenk Carl Weinschenk Carl Weinschenk is a long-time IT and telecom journalist. His coverage areas include the IoT, artificial intelligence, artificial intelligence, drones, 3D printing LTE and 5G, SDN, NFV, net neutrality, municipal broadband, unified communications and business continuity/disaster recovery. Weinschenk has written about wireless and phone companies, cable operators and their vendor ecosystems. He also has written about alternative energy and runs a website, The Daily Music Break, as a hobby.

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