This guest blog post was written by Jaclyn Longo, an Analyst at Propel. Propel is located at Western University and is part of the Campus-Linked Accelerator (CLA) program. The centre provides co-working space, mentorship, seed funding, events and acts as an advocate for local youth-based (aged 18-29) startups in the community. For more info, visit the Propel website.
3D printing technology, also known as additive manufacturing, has been around for over 20 years but Richard D’Aveni believes that there is currently a 3D printing revolution. 3D printing is an “additive process” whereby a physical object is created from a digital model by laying down successive layers of a material. Advancements in 3D printing have made it possible to print objects made from a wide variety of materials including plastic, medal, ceramic, food, biomaterials, and other substances. These advancements, along with a decrease in price, have made 3D printing relevant across a number of industries and more accessible for everyday users.
Entrepreneurs are taking advantage of 3D printing – over 300 3D printing related campaigns have been launched on Kickstarter! 3D printers are reducing the barriers to entry for entrepreneurs by lowering startup costs and allowing for a less risky route to the market. It is radically changing the way that we prototype. 3D printing allows almost anyone with a computer and an idea to develop a working prototype. With 3D printing entrepreneurs have the ability to quickly and cheaply create prototypes allowing them to rapidly validate their ideas. 3D printing allows entrepreneurs and designers to make changes and adjust designs allowing for rapid prototyping based on consumer feedback that was once unattainable with traditional manufacturing. The capital requirements to 3D print a prototype or small production run are much less than is needed to set up a factory or to outsource a mass production run. This allows entrepreneurs to test the market faster and cheaper then ever before. Additionally, 3D printing opens up a world of customization that was once unattainable and extremely expensive.
3D printing is growing in popularity, everyone from students to Fortune 500 companies have been exploring uses for this disruptive technology. As a result, the level of investment in 3D printing is increasing at rapid rates. The healthcare, manufacturing, and food industries have seen the biggest uptake in 3D printing technology and over the years, numerous innovative applications have emerged. For inspiration check out how these three industries are using 3D printing in new and innovative ways: