Next Hurdles to Conquer in Print, is 3D printing a genuinely developing Sector?

3D printing is a word that we hear increasingly in recent times. There have been many uses for 3D printing put forward, even to the extent of using them to build medical appliances such as prosthetics and in certain cases even human organs although this is yet at an experimental level. With such wide possibilities discussed, there is potentially a wider market with multiple uses for 3D printing across the world as the technology is rapidly catching on.

Early on the term, 3D manufacturing was used to identify a process in which binder material was placed on a powder bed with inkjet printing building the layers around it. However, as time went on 3D printing has come to represent a range of additive manufacturing processes which is mostly based around metalworking as well.

Applications for the 3D printing industry remains very diverse and widespread due to the ongoing nature of 3D printing as an industry. Despite being in existence from 1980’s 3D printing has not begun to obtain massive ground until recently. However, it seems a common occurrence to see applications of 3D printing in recent times.

One of the key areas 3D printing is being applied to is the prototyping works. In commercial prototyping 3D printing has emerged as a solution to increase the speed of the prototyping process as well as a way in which multiple iterations of prototyping could be done within a very short period of time. This is a very interesting proposition for manufacturers as this has allowed a way to reduce time and money that was once allocated to an arduous prototyping process.

More demonstrative examples of 3D printing exist in Architecture sector. Where more and more architects use the 3D printing technology to showcase various designs with superior precision and as an exact model of the intended designs. This has allowed for architects to showcase their final vision of a design more clearly and for clients to also get a hands-on experience on what they would be receiving. However, the uses of 3D printing do not end there.

The medical field is a field that many are rapidly turning to 3D printing. One of the very first uses has been to print surgical models either for demonstrative purposes or even surgical training purposes. It is very widely also used to produce customized prosthetics with high levels of precision.

Another industry that is adopting 3D printing is the wider automobile, aeronautics and engineering industry in which the use of the technology is being harnessed to once again create prototypes or in some cases spare parts as well.

Throughout the wider uses of this technology, one key factor remains. And that is the as of yet undiscovered potential for the technology. This is a technology that has found many applications in which it could be used. From product prototyping to building medical devices. With a technology which allows for such an open-ended use of technology, there seems massive potential to explore.

Despite the existence of the technology, 3D printing remains a very un-explored area within Sri Lankan printing industry. This seems a very lucrative and exciting opportunity particularly in the journey towards going global and thus provide an avenue to commit more firmly towards exploring its full potential. Sri Lanka already boasts considerable experience in packaging and labeling segments of the printing industry. The use of 3D printing is a natural fit in such a segment, precisely as it would allow for the industry to make a more concerted push towards obtaining more market share especially in developing countries and products that require prototyping in the packaging processes.

In conclusion, answer to the question is 3D printing a genuinely developing Sector, remains a firm yes but also with a sense of much-unexplored territory. For the time being it has not yet reached a tipping point where it has been able to acquire rapid growth to be considered an industry or even a sector of its own. However, it can reasonably be expected to become a sub-sector of the printing industry within the next few years due to its many support system traits of being able to adapt towards any industrial needs.

For Sri Lankan companies, therefore, 3D printing must be an area of focus as it would allow not only to gain market share in its mission of going global. It would also enable these companies to be at the forefront of the industry within a few years, placing them in ideal financial and industry-leading positions which will provide massive benefits to the entire printing industry of Sri Lanka.  

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