3D Printing in 2016: Where Do We Go From Here?

    Posted by 3DxBlog Team on Mar 8, 2016 10:00:00 AM

    3d_hand.jpg2015 was a huge year for 3D printing. 3D printed objects were everywhere in the news – clothes, prosthetics (for people and animals), toys, even food. As we settle into 2016, what are the trends and predictions for the industry’s direction and growth? Below is a look at 3D printing predictions for certain markets in the coming year.


    Manufacturing as a Service

    In a recent blog post, we highlighted the Stratasys whitepaper, Revolutionizing Manufacturing With 3D Printing: An Introduction. It mentioned that 3D printing benefits prototyping because it cuts down on production time. Companies use their own 3D printer instead of sending the prototype out for production.

    But, CloudDDM predicts companies will turn away from buying their own 3D printers. Instead Manufacturing as a Service (MaaS) will emerge in 2016. MaaS is a direct digital manufacturing network (such as Dassault’s MySOLIDWORKS). Companies can submit CAD designs for 3D printers in the network to bid on and produce quotes. This allows the company to focus on the design.

    3D Printing Capabilities Expanding

    New printers are pushing technological capabilities by experimenting with glass, concrete, new metals and more. Innovations are expanding the production of different sizes and shapes. According to Forbes contributor, Rick Smith (@RickSmithAuthor), “These ‘big area’ 3D printing machines hold the promise of manufacturing an entire airplane wing structure or blades for massive wind turbines in a single print.”


    Healthcare has been one of the fastest adopters of 3D printing. That won’t change in 2016. The customization capabilities of 3D printing match their needs. Individual bodies need customized designs. 3D printers can create these items faster and are a less expensive option. 

    In Gartner’s Predicts 2016: 3D Printing Disrupts Healthcare and Manufacturing, analysts make the following predictions:

    • By 2019, 10% of people in the developed world will be living with 3D printed items that are on or in their bodies.
    • By 2019, 3D printing will be a critical tool in over 35% of surgical procedures requiring prosthetic and implant devices (including synthetic organs) placed inside and around the body.
    • By 2019, technological and material innovation will result in 10% of counterfeit drugs and pharmaceuticals being produced with 3D printers. 


    It’s not all sunshine and roses for 3D printing. The consumer market is dwindling. In December, 3D Systems announced it would no longer produce its desktop 3D printer, The Cube. According to Fortune.com, 3D Systems is “shifting away from the consumer market.” Stratasys is also struggling and has laid off employees. Gartner believes consumer 3D printing is at least five years away from mainstream adoption.

    That said, ENX Magazine believes the decrease in desktop printers is because consumers know “cheaper, faster and more capable systems will soon be available.” It expects the launch of the next generation of 3D printers in 2016 to stabilize the desktop 3D market. Companies, like HP and Carbon3D, will be debuting new technologies that will offer faster and more enhanced printers.

    What are your predictions for 3D printing in 2016? Will it explode in ways we’ve never seen before or make slow, steady advances? Tell us in the comments below.

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    Image Source: Intel Free Pass (License CC 2.0) 

    Tags: 3D CAD, manufacturing