3-D Printing: Future Growth

This is FREE sample
This text is free, available online and used for guidance and inspiration. Need a 100% unique paper? Order a custom essay.
  • Any subject
  • Within the deadline
  • Without paying in advance
Get custom essay


Traditional manufacturing has sustained the industrial revolution that has allowed the numerous benefits in our world today, yet it contains inherent limitations that point to the need for new approaches. Three-dimensional printing, which is also known as additive manufacturing, is a highly flexible manufacturing process that is being used in product development and production for the past 30 years. More exceptional capabilities, lower prices, and an expanded range of manufacturing materials have vastly expanded the adoption of three-dimensional printers over the last decade and a half.

Three-dimensional printers are used in a variety of industries—such as aerospace, medicine, and education—as well as in nonspecific custom prototyping. Three-dimensional printers span a range of alternative capabilities, print with many different kinds of materials, and are capable of building products at a variety of scales. Three-dimensional printing technology is impacting our personal and professional lives, the technology is revolutionizing and, in some cases, replacing existing manufacturing technologies. Three-dimensional printing technology is a striking trend that will significantly impact the future of manufacturing.


Three-dimensional printing is recognized as a collection of technologies known as rapid prototyping, solid freeform fabrication, and, most commonly, additive manufacturing (AM). Three-dimensional printing and additive manufacturing are among the most disruptive technologies of the twentieth century. Three-dimensional printing has outgrown its preliminary use of being only a tool for the manufacture of prototypes. Three-dimensional and additive manufacturing is increasingly proving itself useful in a wide array of segments, including the automotive industry, the medical sector, and the military industry and even in food manufacturing.

Three-dimensional printing and additive manufacturing will revolutionize the way we conceive, design, and produce nearly everything, with a massive impact on jobs, industries, and economies. It is a digital industrial revolution spearheaded by the accelerating growth of 3D printing. Three-dimensional printing is expected to triple its market value from today’s $8.8 billion to more than $26 billion by 2021 (Simpson).

Literature Review

The recent arrival of technologies such as artificial intelligence, augmented reality, advanced robotics, smart devices, and three-dimensional printing is driving a new revolution that is accelerating the shift towards digitalization that began with the 3rd industrial revolution and the dawn of the computer age (Hewlett Packard and AT Kearney, 2018). Some commentators have argued that three-dimensional printing is more than just an interesting development in manufacturing techniques—it represents the dawning of the next industrial revolution (Barnatt, 2013).

Like any genuine fundamental change that spans all aspects of the global economy, by its nature, the change will be disruptive (Horne & Hausman, 2017). Undoubtedly, three-dimensional printing challenges several traditional characteristics of manufacturing. While most manufacturing approaches remove material during the production process, three-dimensional printing techniques add material, building up an object. However, the implications of this approach go further than this to a number of the principles underpinning contemporary manufacturing.

The first version of three-dimensional printing developed under a research project at the University of Texas in the late 1980s. Here, in 1981, Carl Deckard, Joe Beaman, and Paul Forderhase developed the process of Selective Laser Sintering. Their work utilized computer-controlled laser beams to fuse powdered particles in layers. Three-dimensional printing remained a technology mainly used by and for engineers until the mid-2000s (Pipson & Kurman, 2013). Three-dimensional printing has become widespread and is not restrained for manufacturing any longer.

Around the mid-2000s, computing was powerful enough to elevate the printing process to a satisfactory level in terms of speed and quality. This, along with the expiration of key patents, drove prices down and allowed three-dimensional printing to enter the market of early enthusiasts for home use, and of designers in most research and development departments for prototyping purposes. Increased internet adoption also leveraged cross-sector learning and facilitated open source innovation in both product design and 3DP software and hardware (Rehnberg & Ponte, 2018).

Three-dimensional printing usage in various industries is on the rise, steadily increasing over the past several years. Decades of innovation have led to the precipice of the three-dimensional printing industrial revolution. Recent advancements in speed, printing technology, and material capabilities are now aligned, and together they will push the entire industry forward (Reichental, 2018). Airline manufacturers even imagine, one day, the ability to three-dimensional print complete aircraft fuselages, and numerous companies are working to three-dimensional print entire buildings (Molitch-Hou, 2016).

In dentistry, three-dimensional printers are currently utilizing this technology to three-dimensional print crowns, molds, and models. Patient’s medical imaging data, such as a CT scan, are being used to create a three-dimensional printed medical model. These models can then be used to diagnose an illness or even rehearse and plan a surgery, therefore making a procedure more predictable and reducing time in the operating room. Because three-dimensional printing can work with a wide variety of materials and the designs can be changed easily, health professionals are working with engineers to use it for medical applications. Durable, lightweight false teeth and replacement bones are currently formed utilizing three-dimensional printers. Even more complicated body parts, such as livers, ears, and skin, are also being tested (O’Neil & Williams, 2014).

Using three-dimensional printing technology allows architects to present their customers with an invaluable mode of communication as well as develop and refine the structure by being able to assess the three-dimensional model. In the housing arena, three-dimensional printing is used to develop low-cost dwellings. Several approaches are available to either print structures in place or produce bulkier components that require less assembly than traditional modes. Soon, the U.S. Army hopes to three-dimensional print skin to heal the burn wounds of soldiers, using their stem cells.

Body armor and other protective equipment improved through unique geometries, will be lighter and stronger to protect them in the field of battle. Three-dimensional printing is also gaining traction for the direct production of tools, molds, and even final products. These newer uses of three-dimensional printing could enable unprecedented levels of mass customization, shrinking and less-costly supply chains and even the ‘democratization’ of manufacturing as consumers and entrepreneurs begin to print their products (Manyika, Chui, Bughin, Dobbs, Bisson, & Marrs, 2013).

Home use of three-dimensional printers is also on the increase. Today, three-dimensional printers are compared to the personal desktop computer in the 1980s because, like the first personal computers, three-dimensional printers are primarily used by technically savvy, early adopters. Several companies have introduced user-friendly three-dimensional printers to reach the mass market, and some large companies are entering the market to expand the supply of three-dimensional printers around the world further. In the future, three-dimensional printer enthusiasts envision that the technology will be used ubiquitously by every company and consumer. Instead of going to the store to purchase a new outfit or toy, the person can download the blueprints and print the product at their house (Woodson, 2016).

Every major technology — metallurgy, explosives, internal combustion, aviation, electronics, and nuclear energy — has been effectively exploited, not only for peaceful purposes but also for hostile ones. On May 3rd, 2013, another novel technology joined this club—three-dimensional-printing. On this day, Cody Wilson, founder of Defense Distributed, shot the first 3D-printed plastic gun, called the ‘Liberator’ (Walther, 2014). Both home enthusiasts and lawmakers around the world have taken notice of 3D printed guns.

As from three-dimensional printers improve and costs come down, some experts worry that more people will decide to print guns. Use of a 3-D printed weapon ‘would make it very difficult for NIBIN (National Integrated Ballistic Information Network) to detect the signature of that weapon,’ says Frank Fernandez, a retired police chief based in the Miami area who chairs the firearms committee of the International Association of Chiefs of Police (Wilke, 2019). This dilemma is not a new concern.

In 1988, Congress passed the Undetectable Firearms Act, which prohibited manufacture, sale, and possession of a firearm not detectable by walk-through metal detectors or x-ray machines used at airports (Congress, 1988). Firearms technology has been evolving since the fourteenth century and will continue to be debated by lawmakers and those who use them. In order for three-dimensional printers to be accepted by society, policymakers must create guidelines for three-dimensional printing that allows the technology to be used safely for everyone.

Another factor to consider in three-dimensional printing is the issue of intellectual property. There have already been small legal battles between three-dimensional printing hobbyists and firms over copyright violations, and this tension is likely to grow as the technology becomes more ubiquitous (Finocchiaro, 2010). A key consideration for public administration professionals will be to ensure that intellectual property rights are not violated in using three-dimensional printing techniques to devise efficient service delivery methods. This issue is not new, although practitioners will need to work in different ways to ensure that rights are not violated. Solving these legal hurdles is not impossible, but governments will need to develop laws to regulate copyright infractions and liability lawsuits arising from three-dimensional printing.

Thesis Statement

Three-dimensional printing is in the process of incredible growth throughout rapidly expanding sections of manufacturing and technological fields. The three-dimensional printing market is beginning to transition into a maturing business environment and has earned a prominent position as a design and prototyping tool, along with various uses in multiple other fields.

Growing demand in manufacturing and supply chain management, rising development of customized products, and reduced manufacturing cost have been driving the global 3D printing market (MarketWatch, 2019). Three-dimensional printing by nearly every metric—unit sales, total manufacturing revenue, adoption levels—the technology is expanding rapidly. An increasing trend toward cost-effective manufacturing and rapid production is leading to favorable growth for three-dimensional printing.

Several reports have indicated rapid growth for three-dimensional printing and point towards exponential growth in the future.

  • According to the new report, an estimated 1,768 metal additive manufacturing systems were sold in 2017, compared to 983 systems in 2016, a surge of nearly 80 percent (Wohlers Associates, 2018).
  • In just over two years, an astonishing 528,952 desktop 3D printers (or systems) are believed to have been sold. (Wohlers Associates, 2018)
  • In 2017, the additive manufacturing industry, consisting of all additive manufacturing products and services worldwide, grew 21% to $7.336 billion. (Wohlers Associates, 2018)
  • The global economic impact of three-dimensional printing, which has been estimated in the range of $230 billion to $550 billion per year by 2025 (Manyika, Chui, Bughin, Dobbs, Bisson, & Marrs, 2013)
  • Although the three-dimensional printing industry is currently worth around $9.3 billion, a report by Smithers Pira predicts that the additive manufacturing industry will be worth $55.8 billion by 2027 (Smithers, 2017).

The three-dimensional printing industry has entered a new era, propelled by expiring patents, bursts of new investment, and increasing demands on quality, price, and performance from every segment of a rapidly growing user community. Evidence of this new era for three-dimensional printing is seen in the proliferation of emerging technologies, materials, markets, businesses, collaborations, and services. The rate at which the industry is growing and diversifying into these new segments is genuinely staggering.

This unprecedented growth will cause a new wave of investment, which will come from individuals, governments at all levels, and educational institutions. Some of the most significant investments will be made by the private sector, including large corporations that are new to three-dimensional printing. Many professionals in the industry believe that they have barely scratched the surface of what is possible with three-dimensional printing.


Three-dimensional printing has the potential to shake up not just individual industries but the entire manufacturing sector. Three-dimensional printing has seized the imagination of many manufacturing professionals and technology experts. The technology is regarded as a pathway to digitize production, manufacture on-demand, and has caused every industry to rethink product design. Multiple industries have used three-dimensional printing, and from the data, it appears that not one of them seems to be slowing down. From aircraft to medical and dental, the uses of three-dimensional printing almost seem endless at this point. While there are some obstacles to overcome, such as patent issues and the legal and proper use of three-dimensional printing, the technology of three-dimensional printing will continue to grow well into the future.


  1. Barnatt, C. (2013). 3D Printing: The New Inustrial Revolution. New York: Create Space.
  2. Congress, U. (1988, November 10). Undetectable Firearms Act of 1988. H.R.4445 – Undetectable Firearms Act of 1988.
  3. Finocchiaro, C. (2010). Personal Factory or Catalyst for Piracy? The Hype, Hysteria, and Hard Realities of Consumer 3-D Printing. Cardozo Arts and Entertainment Law Journal, 473-509.
  4. Hewlett Packard and AT Kearney. (2018). 3D Printing: ensuring manufacturing leadership in the 21st century. Palo Alto: Hewlett Packard. Retrieved January 9, 2019, from http://www.ncsl.org/Portals/1/Documents/fsl/3D_Printing_24659.pdf
  5. Horne, R., & Hausman, K. K. (2017). 3D Printing for dummies. Hoboken: John Wiley & Sons, Inc.
  6. Manyika, J., Chui, M., Bughin, J., Dobbs, R., Bisson, P., & Marrs, A. (2013). Disruptive technologies: Advances that will transform life, business, and the global economy. San Francisco: McKinsey & Company.
  7. MarketWatch. (2019, October 17). Global 3D Printing Market Insights By Size, Share, Future Growth And Forecast From 2018-2025. Retrieved January 24, 2020, from MarketWatch: https://www.marketwatch.com/press-release/global-3d-printing-market-insights-by-size-share-future-growth-and-forecast-from-2018-2025-2019-10-17
  8. Molitch-Hou, M. (2016, November 15). 6 Industries Changed Forever by 3D Printing. Retrieved from engineering.com: https://www.engineering.com/3DPrinting/3DPrintingArticles/ArticleID/13689/6-Industries-Changed-Forever-by-3D-Printing.aspx
  9. O’Neil, T., & Williams, J. (2014). 3D Printing. Ann Arbor: Cherry Lake Publishing.
  10. Pipson, H., & Kurman, M. (2013). Fabricated: The New World of 3D Printing. Indianapolis: John Wiley & Sons, INc.
  11. Rehnberg, M., & Ponte, S. (2018). From smiling to smirking? 3d printing, upgrading and restructuring of global value chains. Global Networks, 57-80.
  12. Reichental, A. (2018, January 23). The Future Of 3-D Printing. Retrieved from Forbes: https://www.forbes.com/sites/forbestechcouncil/2018/01/23/the-future-of-3-d-printing/#3b2d17d065f6
  13. Simpson, L. T.-K. (n.d.). 3D Printing and the Future of the US Economy. Retrieved January 9, 2019, from A.T. Kearney: https://www.atkearney.com/operations-performance-transformation/article?/a/3d-printing-and-the-future-of-the-us-economy-article
  14. Smithers. (2017, May 22). The Future of 3D Printing to 2027. Retrieved from Smithers: https://www.smithers.com/services/market-reports/printing/the-future-of-3d-printing-to-2027
  15. Walther, G. (2014). Printing Insecurity? The Security Implications. Sci Eng Ethics, 1435-1445.
  16. Wilke, C. (2019, September 24). 3-D printed ‘ghost guns’ pose new challenges for crime-scene investigators. Retrieved from Science News: https://www.sciencenews.org/article/3d-printed-guns-plastic-ballistics-crime
  17. Wohlers Associates. (2018). Wohlers Report 2018. Fort Collins: Wohlers Associates Inc.
  18. Woodson, T. S. (2016). 3D Printing for Sustainable Industrial. Society for International Development, pp. 571-576.


Cite this paper

3-D Printing: Future Growth. (2021, Jul 21). Retrieved from https://samploon.com/3-d-printing-future-growth/



Is 3D printing a growing industry?
3D printing is a growing industry because it can create three-dimensional objects from a digital file. It is used in a variety of industries, including healthcare, aerospace, and manufacturing.
Is there a future in 3D printing?
Yes, there is a future in 3D printing. The technology is constantly improving and becoming more accessible, making it a viable option for more and more applications.
What impact will 3D printing have on the future?
3D printing will have a huge impact on the future. It will change the way we manufacture products and will make it possible to create things that were previously impossible.
What is the potential growth of 3D printing?
A balanced diet is one that includes all the major food groups in the right proportions. The best way to achieve a balanced diet is to eat a variety of foods in moderation.
We use cookies to give you the best experience possible. By continuing we’ll assume you’re on board with our cookie policy

Peter is on the line!

Don't settle for a cookie-cutter essay. Receive a tailored piece that meets your specific needs and requirements.

Check it out