How 3D printing could disrupt Asia’s manufacturing economies

A 3D printer creates a sophisticated geometric structure, developed by Silicon Valley startup Carbon. Credit: Reuters Objects of almost any shape or geometry can be produced by 3D printing. The technology could seriously disrupt not just manufacturing but related national plans for economic development.

From retail goods to medical implants and even food, 3D printing technology promises to change the way we think about everyday things. It’s difficult to predict what impact it will have on manufacturing but, whatever the precise effects, they are likely to be deep and permanent.

Also known as “additive manufacturing,” 3D printing refers to processes where an object is put together by layering materials under programmed commands. Objects can be of almost any shape or geometry and are produced from digital model data or other electronic data sources, such as an Additive Manufacturing File.

The advent of 3D printing opens the way for manufacturers to significantly reduce the production cost of their goods by eliminating many steps in the manufacturing process, such as casting and welding metal. It also reduces the complete production process to no more than three to four key players.

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