3D printing, or “additive manufacturing”, is the process of joining materials to make objects from three-dimensional model data, usually layer upon layer. In 2013, the 3D printing industry was worth $3bn, and grew to $7bn in 2017. By 2025, the 3D printing market will account for over $20bn in spend.
The 3D printing market blends software technology with materials science and the growth in interest in 3D printing technology is fueling a significant amount of R&D investment in the core technologies that make up 3D printing solutions.
Today, 3D printing is not commonly used as a replacement for volume manufacture, where the technology and materials cost means that other manufacturing approaches are more suitable. However, it is now widely used in prototyping across a number of sectors where it can significantly lower the cost of development.
This application is expected to become a vital component for industries that lean heavily toward machines, robotics, large and small equipment, and more complex components. Within an industry such as energy, oil and gas (O&G) companies find themselves at a critical stage of replacing, retrofitting, and maintaining large portions of their equipment and physical infrastructure.
Due to the nature of the operations within the oil and gas industry, many facilities, plants, and rigs are situated in remote areas and transporting spare parts or maintenance crews to them is a lengthy process. The application of 3D printing has the capabilities to address this challenge by providing quick, on-demand materials and easily replicated parts to these remote outposts.
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