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How do you see the future of 3D printing?

Commentary by Ilppo Hiekkanen, Product Group Manager with Luvata Pori

"That’s an amazing invention, but who would ever want to use one of them?". This was the famous sentence allegedly said by American President Rutherford B. Hayes to Graham Bell when he demonstrated the telephone to him 1876.

Well, we all know now that the telephone very soon found its “use”.  It is also responsible for a new era of communication and creating a totally new industry.

Today a cell phone can be found in practically everyone’s pocket. However the question often attributed to President Rutherford’s is still valid when we consider the results of our recent poll question concerning the future of 3D printing.

As far as I remember this technology was first developed for rapid prototyping aiming to speed up the new product development cycle and reduce time to market. The second generation introduced a number of new materials and expanded the scope of the 3D printing technology to industrial manufacturing and medical science.

Today 3D printed components have found their way into aircrafts and surgical implants that match perfectly to the patient. For example Airbus has announced that its new A350 XWB aircraft includes over 1000 3D printed components. Very impressive, but do feel like you could have a use for this new device next to your multipurpose home office printer/scanner/copy/fax machine?

Would you reconsider it if you could print chocolate candies, cakes, or even the perfect fit shoes, toys or spare parts to your lawn mower?  Indeed I think the best is yet to come.

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