No longer limited to plastic prototypes, the value of the 3D printing market is set to triple to $6 billion by 2017. Here’s a roundup of insights on 3D printing.

Curated by Gregory Pings

Everyone is talking about 3D printing as if it were something new.  In fact, the technology has been in use for about 30 years. So what’s new?

That’s the focus of this article that appeared in Outsourcing-Center.com earlier this month. Business writer Patti Putnicki points out that 3D printing is no longer limited to producing plastic prototypes early in the product design phase. That’s because new materials and technology allow for limited production runs that are used by businesses and consumers alike – such as medical prosthetics, machine components and spare parts.

3-D Printer

Which of your business process can be simplified with 3D printing? How do you plan to make it a profitable part of your strategy?

Is that a big deal? Yes, according to Xerox director of Corporate Strategy Kevin T. Lewis who was quoted in Outsourcing Center’s article. The 3D printing market is currently valued at $2 to $2.5 billion, and it’s set to triple to $6 billion by 2017. The article also gives you a quick primer on how the technology works and where it’s making an impact today; a look at some of the legal ramifications for patents and copyrights; as well as the opportunities the technology brings for outsourcers.

Also worth a look:

Will 3D Printing Upend Fashion Like Napster Crippled the Music Industry? This Mashable.com article notes that the variety of materials used in 3D printers includes metals, plastics, wood and nylon. The result? Custom bikinis with plastic pieces that snap together, or an eye-popping skeleton dress from designer by Iris Van Herpen. And that’s just the beginning.

3D Printing – Global Economy Disruptor? This white paper from OneBeacon Technology Insurance notes that 3D printing may have as profound an impact on the world as the coming of the factory did. This article describes some interesting applications that range from toys and trinkets, to printed circuits for mobile devices, to human-compatible bone implants, or pigskin cells that can be printed onto burn wounds.

3 Ways 3-D Printing Could Transform Your Office:  “… 3-D printing and printed electronics will indeed change the world — it’s just “going to take some time,” Leon Wong, a director at PARC, Inc.,  told RealBusiness.com. “…the enormous potential for 3-D printing is everywhere,” he added, “a lot of it just depends on what your business is.”

Which of your business process can be simplified with 3D printing? How do you plan to make it a profitable part of your strategy?