Toronto Metropolitan University
MAR-CLT6965_3D-Printing_White_paper.pdf (6.7 MB)

Layer-by-Layer: Opportunities in 3D printing Technology trends, growth drivers and the emergence of innovative applications in 3D printing

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posted on 2024-03-05, 17:32 authored by Claudio Munoz, Chris KimChris Kim, Lucas Armstrong

Additive Manufacturing (AM) is a manufacturing process that deposits materials layer-by-layer to build a tangible product. The most common, and the most popular currently, is 3D printing. AM is claimed to have triggered a third industrial revolution because the technology presents new and expanding technical, economical and social impacts (Economist, 2012). Particularly, the increased accessibility to 3D printing capabilities has allowed mass customization to become more widespread in industries such as healthcare and consumer markets. Since the advent of mass production in the early 20th century, consumers’ demands have been met by producing large numbers of goods in significantly less time than ever before. While production time and price decreased, they did so at the expense of customization. AM makes it possible to offer customers options to personalize the products and goods they are purchasing, from custom-made prosthetics to a personalized smartphone case. The importance of customization cannot be understated. Researchers agree that customization will continue to grow as a major trend across industries. J.P. Gownder, vice president and principal analyst for infrastructure and operations professionals for Forrester, says that while “mass customization has long been the next big thing in product strategy … changes in customer-facing technology are opening up new opportunities for product strategists to bring customers into product design, creating both customer loyalty and higher margins” (Forrester, 2011, p. 12). Marina Wall of the Heinz Nixdorf Institute at the University of Paderborn also contends that, “individuality or mass customization are important trends driving change so increased product diversity is important for the future and for meeting individual customer requirements. AM has great potential for freedom of design that can cope with these challenges” (as cited in AM Platform, 2013, p. 29). 3D printing is expected to play a significant role in the future of mass customization. This report explores the potential impact that this technology may have in various sectors. Through secondary research and conversations with business analysts, investors, members of the 3D printing community, experts and entrepreneurs, we investigated some of the potential market opportunities the technology is unveiling. We also explore sources of capital and nascent business models for those innovators interested in capitalizing on this technology. As part of our investigation, we also profile some organizations involved with 3D printing or related markets. These entrepreneurs are actively and creatively pushing the limits of 3D technology. For the purposes of this document, the terms 3D printing and additive manufacturing will be used interchangeably. 




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