The 3D Printing (also known as Additive Manufacturing) SIG meets monthly. It's an exciting, potentially game-changing technology that will dramatically alter the way products are designed, manufactured, distributed and financed.
A standard digital file (.stl) of an object is created, either by using Computer-Aided Design (CAD) software or a 3D scanner, and is sent to a dedicated machine which builds the object layer-upon-layer in a material such as plastic, metal or ceramic.
Today the technology is mainly used for rapid-prototyping and in a select number of industries for high-value low-run production. Adoption is increasing across more industries as high quality commercial printers become more affordable. High resolution industrial desktop machines can be purchased today for less than $10,000, whereas the same quality of output would have cost in excess of $100,000 five years ago. The home printer market is growing exponentially as well, as hobbyists and enthusiasts have embraced the open sourced technology which originated from the “RepRap” project (Replicating Rapid Protoyping) while the cost of these home desktop 3D printing machines plummets.
In the same way the printing press democratized information and the internet democratized communication, 3D printing will demassify and democratize manufacturing - “The Third Revolution.
The 3D Printing and Scanning Special Interest Group (SIG) provides a forum for technologists and companies, as well as members of the investor community and other interested parties, to discuss the critical aspects of the technology that require improvement, future direction of the technology and to network with one another. The majority of innovation and investment in 3D printing-related technologies to date has not been centered in Silicon Valley, and this SIG aims to contribute to changing this for what is considered by many as the next trillion dollar market.
Example of areas we plan to discuss include: software (CAD, Digital Rights Management or DRM, and scanning), hardware and materials (the various printing technologies, types of materials available, scanners), the met place (internet market place, social networking design, customized production, manufacturers directly accessing the end user), the B2B market across all relevant sectors, and the home printer market.
By Mark Helfen
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