Graphics Programs Reference
3D Printing service providers, referred to as bureaus elsewhere here, often offer additional
design and manufacturing processes to compliment 3D Printing. These include CAD
design engineering services, vacuum casting, 3D scanning, general engineering and tooling
Future trends in 3D Printing include the continued rise in the DIY Maker Movement.
Open source web use is likely to impact the way engineers and manufacturers exploit the
technology, with increased file sharing and web-based collaborative problem solving. Just
as this trend has involved many individuals not traditionally associated with manufactur-
ing, future events may be shaped and influenced by those not directly involved in produc-
tion processes. These include students, researches, inventors and entrepreneurs. The result
may be the evolution of alternative business models.
A greater range of engineering materials and further refinement of 3D Printing manufac-
turing processes will reduce costs. The result is likely to be a greater adoption of the tech-
nology, more deeply and broadly across industry. 3D Printing will be adopted more as a
prototyping technique during product development, as manufacturers react to commercial
pressures to shrink lead-times, customise standard products and innovate to produce in-
creasingly complicated components. Rapid manufacturing of production-ready parts will
increase as the cost of 3D Printing techniques and materials fall. Polymers and particularly
metallic 3D parts will begin to replace some components traditionally produced with con-
ventional manufacturing methods.
Print speeds will become faster. Systems will become more intelligent with diagnostics
checking and validating CAD models, to ensure they are optimised for better quality parts.
The availability of CAD models will increase with vast libraries available from which to
download components. Manufacturers will have to adapt, potentially enabling spare parts
to be downloaded, possibly for a fee.
Medium-to-longer term trends include common place printing in a variety of different ma-
terials, from the same machine. Eventually the printing of complete products may move a
step closer. This will have implications for ownership of intellectual property and patent
The demand for 3D Printing is expected to remain strong. It is likely to continue to grow,
driven by consumer and industrial demand for products. The trend is likely to increase with
the economic upturn, and as nations realise a vibrant innovative technological sector is cru-
cial for economic success.