Todd Grimm on 3D Printing’s Future

Enthusiastic realist plays down the media hype of the manufacturing revolution, but insist great potential still exists in the industry. 

3d printing, AMUG, AM, industry, hypeIn the Additive Manufacturing User Group conference’s first keynote, industry expert Todd Grimm laid out his view of the 3D Printing landscape, highlighting many of the technologies and trends that are driving the industry.

Ever the enthusiastic realist, Grimm played down the media driven hype that a “manufacturing revolution” was just over the horizon.  That’s not to say that the heightened exposure hasn’t brought more eyes looking at it, more brains thinking about and more money being poured into the industry.

Taking a broader view Todd commented that recent moves by big players to consolidate the business have put investors on notice and driven home the idea that additive manufacturing is more than just a technology, it’s a maturing industry.

According to Todd, the consumer market which has driven most of the 3D printing hype, will deflate in the near term. While this atrophying will see far fewer players in market, those with strong business and distribution plans will survive.

Todd believes that distributed printing will be key to 3D Printing finding a permanent place in industry. As companies begin to adopt 3D printing into their product design cycle, smaller printers will prove useful for prototyping at a departmental level. Designs built by these machines will then be printed on more specialized and expensive printers that can produce components that will better represent a finished product.

Most importantly, Todd’s keynote addressed what he sees as the impending crash of the hype surrounding additive manufacturing. According to Todd, within 24 months the hype about what 3D printing might deliver will catch up to what the technology is actually capable of producing and the industry will lose much of its coverage. 

In the end Todd concluded that AM’s promise is still 10-20 years out. While there won’t be an overnight manufacturing revolution, after hearing Todd’s keynote it’s apparent that 3D printing still has a tremendously bright future.