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3D Printing Goes Corporate in 2015



By John Hornick and Elizabeth Ferrill and Ben Sirolly

2013 was a year of consumer and media hype about 3D printing. In 2014, much of the hype evaporated, but the industry continued to grow at a clip of more than 30%. 2015 may be the year that 3D printing reaches its inflection point in the corporate arena.

Corporate America is getting into 3D printing in a big way. Amazon launched a 3D printing storefront, Staples offers a walk-in 3D printing service, and The Home Depot is stocking consumer-grade printers. In 2015, 3D printers will become increasingly common in the average home and on factory floors. Research firm Gartner reports that shipments of worldwide consumer and industrial 3D printers will double in 2015.

3D printing will continue to revitalize U.S. manufacturing in 2015. 3D Systems took a page from history to build its Continuous, High-Speed Fab-Grade Printer, an assembly line of 3D printers where the print bed is mobile and the print head is stationary, the opposite of traditional 3D printers. 3D Systems and Google plan to mass produce 3D printed modular smart phones using this technology, beginning in Q1 2015.

GE, one of the best cheerleaders for industrial 3D printing, is building an Alabama factory that should be up and running next year, using a 3D printing process called Powder Bed Fusion to mass produce fuel nozzles for jet engines. 3D printing the nozzles reduces the number of parts from 20 to one and reduces their weight by 25%. Because of such eff...

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