August 4th, 2013

The Promise, and Reality, of 3D Printing

Vivek Wadhwa

Shochet says that a revolution is already happening, but at a different place than most people think. He says “while consumers can’t snap their fingers and have an object instantly printed, the people who are impacted by 3D printing today say that it is game-changing for their businesses and even life-changing for them personally”. He sees new level of creativity being instilled in the next generations of designers and engineers who are exposed to 3D printing from the very beginning of their careers. We are about to see a renaissance in design. Imagine what Leonardo da Vinci could have designed if he had an iPad and 3D printer. That is what millions of creative people all over the world will soon be able to do.

So let’s be excited, but adjust our expectations.

In the foreseeable future, 3D printers will allow us to visualize almost anything we can imagine. Manufacturers will use these to print parts for airplanes and personalized medical devices. Consumers will print customized toys for their children and jewelry for themselves. We won’t—for a long time—see the large-scale manufacturing revolution that Obama is hoping for. That revolution will, however, happen after we become bitterly disappointed.

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