I was having my coffee and reading the morning’s investment news when I came across an article regarding 3-D print, which directed me to another article and then another. While I was already aware of the pockets of the day-to-day impact this technology was having in health care, manufacturing, etc., I hadn’t really given much thought to the potential sweeping change that the investment world is hanging its hat on in search of the “next big thing.”
Why does this innovation have the potential to completely change the playing field? Because 3-D print can be utilized in any and every market imaginable, cutting costs and delays between design, initial fabrication and manufacturing. New product development can happen in a matter of days—or even hours—rather than months.
3-D print continues to be used across vertical markets, including the military, consumer retail and health care (even in custom hearing aid device manufacturing and organ transplants). And now the consumer 3-D print experience is coming to market through storefront print shops like UPS, making the technology readily available to the public. You can even buy your own 3-D printer at select Microsoft and Staples retail stores, for approximately $2,100.00.
With patents expiring in 2014, investment publishers like The Motley Fool and Seeking Alpha are reporting that the market is expected to boom in the next five years—tripling by 2018 to about $3 billion in the U.S. alone.
While I definitely did not buy all the hype about 3-D television (and apparently no one else did, either), with this technology having critical touchpoints and applications in so many areas, improving business efficiencies and even saving lives, it is enough to give me pause and consider how this technology can at long last put an end to any talk about print being dead.