The Cheat Sheet

3D printing is building a new world

Jinoy Jose P | Updated on January 09, 2019 Published on January 09, 2019

Where? I don’t see anyone using it among us.

Well, you’re not scanning in the right dimensions. Just this morning, I was chatting with a friend from a remote village in Kerala who’s been using a super cool 3D printer to make cycle parts and several another interesting things; he’s even managed to sell some of his products to friends and neighbours. That prompted me to sit back and take note of what’s happening now in this technology, which was once touted to be one of the most influential force in industrialisation’s next journey.

So, what have you found out?

Fact is, 3D printing is coming of age, thanks to a series of companies, mainly from China, and entrepreneurs who’re changing the game for good, making the technology, which was initially popular in the industrial sector and among small manufacturers, more approachable to the common man. Year 2018 was when 3D printing proved its mettle and helped shed some of the myths around it, as Richard A D’Aveni author of The Pan-Industrial Revolution: How New Manufacturing Titans Will Transform the World recently observed in The Washington Post.

What were those myths?

Apparently, people thought 3D printing could be a slow process and may never gain the speeds of professional, industry-scale product-making. But new 3D printers such as Desktop Metal’s Single Pass Jetting or HP’s Multi Jet Fusion, notes D’Áveni, make products in minutes. Also, the other myth was 3D printers are able to produce only relatively small products. But that’s also changed. In all probability you have seen photos on social media of 3D printed houses from China and elsewhere. Again, in 2015 itself, a company in Amsterdam was able to 3D print a steel bridge across a famous canal.

Wow, that’s some real 3D!

There’s more. That 3D printing machines could produce only cheap products has also been proven wrong recently with latest techniques such as Digital Light Synthesis being able to provide high-quality finish to products. Also, now 3-D printing is able to create really complex structures that routine manufacturing methods would find difficult to handle. Experts are now saying that in the foreseeable future 3D printing can produce organs (yes, you heard me!). Already, cosmetic companies are trying 3D printing for making artificial skin, which they could use for testing new products.

That’s a new world, I’d say.

Indeed. Further, 3D printing is now helping economies, especially the not-so-advanced ones, to prosper in manufacturing. Aleksandra Gadzala, a senior fellow at think tank Africa Center, recently brought out a brief titled 3D Printing: Shaping Africa’s Future where she says 3D printing could help reshape “how and where things are made” in Africa and economies that rely on “low-wage, labour-intensive manufacturing”.

No wonder it’s popular in China.

Yes, China’s 3D printing industry is growing at a fast clip. The market for 3D printed houses and house components are booming in China, while the technology is influencing the way things are made in sectors such as medical devices, vehicle components, aviation, toys, home decor and art, according reports on China Daily. Recently, in Beijing, a patient underwent a brain surgery where the doctors at the Peking University Third Hospital used a 3D-printed membrane called ReDura, developed by bio-printing company Medprin Regenerative Medical Technologies in Guangzhou.

That’s super promising!

Analysts say the industrial 3D printing market will hit $7-10 billion by 2024, at a compounded annual growth of over 30 per cent from now. The market in emerging economies alone could reach $4.5 billion by 2020, forecasts a recent study. Which shows the sector is scaling new heights. That said, regulators feel that there is a need to look at the proliferation of 3D printing grey markets where consumers can produce guns at home.

A weekly column that helps you ask the right questions.

Published on January 09, 2019

A letter from the Editor

Dear Readers,

The coronavirus crisis has changed the world completely in the last few months. All of us have been locked into our homes, economic activity has come to a near standstill. Everyone has been impacted.

Including your favourite business and financial newspaper. Our printing and distribution chains have been severely disrupted across the country, leaving readers without access to newspapers. Newspaper delivery agents have also been unable to service their customers because of multiple restrictions.

In these difficult times, we, at BusinessLine have been working continuously every day so that you are informed about all the developments – whether on the pandemic, on policy responses, or the impact on the world of business and finance. Our team has been working round the clock to keep track of developments so that you – the reader – gets accurate information and actionable insights so that you can protect your jobs, businesses, finances and investments.

We are trying our best to ensure the newspaper reaches your hands every day. We have also ensured that even if your paper is not delivered, you can access BusinessLine in the e-paper format – just as it appears in print. Our website and apps too, are updated every minute, so that you can access the information you want anywhere, anytime.

But all this comes at a heavy cost. As you are aware, the lockdowns have wiped out almost all our entire revenue stream. Sustaining our quality journalism has become extremely challenging. That we have managed so far is thanks to your support. I thank all our subscribers – print and digital – for your support.

I appeal to all or readers to help us navigate these challenging times and help sustain one of the truly independent and credible voices in the world of Indian journalism. Doing so is easy. You can help us enormously simply by subscribing to our digital or e-paper editions. We offer several affordable subscription plans for our website, which includes Portfolio, our investment advisory section that offers rich investment advice from our highly qualified, in-house Research Bureau, the only such team in the Indian newspaper industry.

A little help from you can make a huge difference to the cause of quality journalism!


Support Quality Journalism
This article is closed for comments.
Please Email the Editor
You have read 1 out of 3 free articles for this week. For full access, please subscribe and get unlimited access to all sections.