Too much 3D hype, says 3D printing consultant

James Snodgrass

Published: September 28, 2012 6:00 am ET

Related to this story

Topics Design

BIRMINGHAM, ENGLAND (Sept. 28, 1:30 p.m. ET) — The future for 3D printing is “not so rosy” said Todd Grimm, president of T. A. Grimm and Associates, an Edgewood, Ky., prototyping consultant, in an iconoclastic opening keynote during this week’s TCT conference in Birmingham.

Grimm urged the industry to adopt a more pragmatic approach.

In his provocative address, Grimm planted “seeds of doubt” about additive manufacturing based upon the gulf between what is practical today and what is promised in the future.

Citing Gartner Research’s 2012 Hype Cycle for Emerging Technologies special report — which indicates that 3D printing is reaching the “peak of inflated expectations” — Grimm blames media hype for distorting the reality of what can be done today and what we can reasonably expect in the short term future.

Examples of media hype that Grimm identified included Airbus’s announcement at Farnborough that it was going to 3D-print aircraft.

“What the media failed to tell you is that Airbus’s statement said ‘by the year 2050’ … not a single component on an Airbus aircraft flying today is made with additive manufacturing.

He also cited the stop-motion animated film ParaNorman, which used 3D printed facial expressions.

“What they failed to tell you,” said Grimm, “is that the producers did not save a single dollar or a single second”. What is important, he stressed, is that the producers had a new creative process to work with.

Grimm believes the hype has been fueled by the introduction of consumer-level 3D printers.

“At any time soon, the 3D printer will not become a staple in the household,” Grimm predicted. He lambasted the low-cost machines because their manufacturers have not invested in their development and in user interfaces, relying instead on open source code.

“Anyone could make one. What they are not doing is putting in the stability, the usability, the things that will actually make them work,” said Grimm.

But he suggested that the nascent consumer market will have an effect on the lower end of the professional market. He estimated that the two markets, consumer and professional, will converge at the $5,000 point.

“Additive manufacturing and 3D printing are a poor substitute for conventional manufacturing,” said Grimm, suggesting that the industry needs to look for the niches where it can offer a unique solution.

“The opportunity lies when you change the game. Stop looking at it as a direct substitute for injection molding or die casting.”


Comments

Too much 3D hype, says 3D printing consultant

James Snodgrass

Published: September 28, 2012 6:00 am ET

Post Your Comments


Back to story


More stories

Image

Venture capital firm buys stake in Ximedica

November 17, 2014 3:32 pm ET

International venture capital firm SV Life Sciences has acquired a majority stake in Providence, R.I.-based medical device company Ximedica LLC.    More

Image

Arburg's Freeformer wins Red Dot design prize

November 10, 2014 2:05 pm ET

Arburg GmbH + Co. KG, the Germany-based injection molding machine manufacturer, has won a Red Dot design award for its first 3-D printing machine,...    More

Market Reports

Plastics in Brazil - State of the Industry Report

This in-depth report examines the Brazilian plastics industry from a historical and geographical context. Our analysts provide insight on economic trends and forecasts, growing manufacturing sectors that utilize plastics, private investment opportunities, market environment challenges, and innovations in R&D.

Data tables and charts on producer prices, trade, plastics production and end market indicators is also included.

Learn more

Plastics Recycling Trends in North America

This report is a review and analysis of the North American Plastics Recycling Industry, including key trends and statistics based on 2013 performance. We examine market environment factors, regulatory issues, industry challenges, key drivers and emerging trends in post-consumer and post-industrial recycling.

Learn more

Injection Molders Market Report & Ranking 2014

This special package contains our 132-page 2014 Market Report on the Injection Molding segment and our exclusive 2014 RANKINGS database of 500+ Injection Molders for a discounted package price.

Learn more

Upcoming Plastics News Events

January 14, 2015 - January 14, 2015Plastics in Automotive

February 4, 2015 - February 6, 2015Plastics News Executive Forum 2015

June 2, 2015 - June 3, 2015Plastics Financial Summit - Chicago 2015

September 16, 2015 - September 18, 2015Plastics Caps & Closures - September 2015

October 27, 2015 - October 29, 2015Plastics Financial Summit - New York - 2015

More Events