NScrypt CEO Kenneth Church, one of the sources quoted in the cover story for the Fall 2016 issue of Smart Manufacturing magazine, spoke excitedly with us about growing 3D printing from an industry that records sales of $3 billion a year to one that tallies 10s or 100s of billions a year.
One way to get there is to move in on the printed circuit board field: Additive manufacturing (AM) can disrupt the printed circuit boards market because AM produces less waste—which translates to competitiveness through cost savings.
But AM faces obstacles against which future competition from the circuit board industry pales.
The technological challenges with which AM is grappling today have ushered in a disturbing new paradigm.
“For the first time in history, manufacturing is more advanced than design,” Columbia University Prof. Hod Lipson declares in this issue. “With AM, you can make almost any shape you can imagine. The challenge is the software design tools are not keeping pace. We can build anything but we can’t design it.”
To address that unacceptable truth, we rounded up many of those demonstrating the sort of audacious and monumental thinking that is needed to set a successful course correction.
Four of these visionaries appear on the cover of this issue: In addition to Church and Lipson, this august group includes Met-L-Flo President Carl Dekker and Adrian Lannin, a Microsoft group program manager.
The experts whom we consulted pointed to file format and design tool woes, providing details, perspectives and innovations we trust will help end AM’s design doldrums.
Solving AM’s troubles will open the door to billions of dollars in market growth and pave the way to further innovation.
To get a foothold in printed circuit boards, AM firms would need to master electrically functional structures. But who could resist taking a bite out of that $70 billion-a-year market?
Then there’s personalized demand. “There is $2.3 trillion in personalized medicine alone,” Church said.
Also beckoning: High-volume customization and new inventions.
Church, for one, sees new personalized products and devices on the horizon—shoes, eyeglasses and computers.
“Fitbit is going to look like child’s play compared to what’s coming,” he said.
This column was first published in the Fall 2016 issue of Smart Manufacturing magazine.