In the past few years 3D printing has gone from a little known technological achievement appreciated by artists and hobbyists to a household name. Still, the printers and materials have remained expensive enough to prevent widespread acceptance and affect its ability to cause significant change. However, costs are declining and it’s possible to print with materials other than plastic, namely metals.
Companies like Desktop Metal are already shipping low cost metal printers capable of generating small metal creations and are offering software that helps users create a design for their metal objects. Similarly, GE is testing a printer capable of making larger metal pieces and plans to make it available by year-end. This could have a huge impact on manufacturing, making it now routine for manufacturers to print materials on demand, requiring less room for inventory and making it easier to customize and adapt to ever-changing customer demands.