While 3-D printing has been around
for decades, it has remained largely
in the domain of hobbyists and
designers producing one-o; prototypes. And printing objects with
anything other than plastics—in
particular, metal—has been expensive and painfully slow.
Now, however, it’s becoming
cheap and easy enough to be a
potentially practical way of manufacturing parts. If widely adopted,
it could change the way we mass-produce many products.
In the short term, manufacturers wouldn’t need to maintain large
inventories—they could simply print
an object, such as a replacement
part for an aging car, whenever
someone needs it.
In the longer term, large factories that mass-produce a limited
range of parts might be replaced
Now printers can make metal objects
quickly and cheaply.
WHY IT MATTERS
The ability to make large and complex
metal objects on demand could transform
New machines are
making 3;D printing of
metal parts practical
for the first time.