The Industry Markets Continue to Underestimate

3d Key Shows Three Dimensional Printer Or Font

In late 2013, I attended the Advanced Engineering Show, a giant trade show for global engineering firms. Among the billion dollar companies were a number of startups.

These were tiny companies barely out of the research lab. But these are the kinds of companies that fascinate me. These are the kinds of companies that roll the dice on cutting edge tech. If successful, they can go from zero to a billion overnight.

One of the more mind blowing demonstrations at the show was tucked into the back corner. It was a humble little stand with a couple of banners, a TV playing a demo video, and of course the technology itself.

The technology was a printer that printed electrical circuits. It looked like the printer you have at home. Except this printer wasn’t printing ink on sheets of paper. It was printing thin, flexible sheets of electric circuits.

I wondered what the application of this would be. You could print electrical circuits onto almost any surface — walls, posters, doors, mirrors…

That was breakthrough tech just one year ago. It still is today. But as I’ve said before, one year is a long time in the tech world.

3D printing galloping forward

The Canalys predict the 3D printing industry will grow at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 45.7% over the next four years.

  • IDC predict the growth rate to be 59% annually over the next three years.
  • Wells Fargo Wealth Management think the CAGR will be 81.9%
  • And Gartner suggests the CAGR will be 95%.
  • They have quite different views of exactly how fast the 3D printing industry will grow. And chances are none of them will be right.

    But there’s an obvious trend among these forecasts. They all agree the industry is set for astronomical growth. The lowest CAGR is 45.7%. The highest is 95%.

    It’s likely to be somewhere in between. It’s an industry on the rise. Yet, investors still don’t appreciate how influential 3D printing will be. So let me reiterate.

    In the last year alone, almost every 3D printing company has brought to market a range of new printers. The best of them are multi-material printers from 3D Systems and Stratasys.

    These are printers that can print with different textures, densities and surfaces, using a range of colours and materials. They’re also printing faster, larger, and in greater detail than ever before.

    Imagine being able to print a chair. Not just a plastic chair. Imagine printing a timber chair with fabric arms and cushions. And the final print is all one piece. And it starts with just a click of the mouse…or swipe of the hand.

    That’s high tech. And it’s soon to be a reality. But things are again about to get even better.

    Now imagine 3D printing a blender. Seem complicated? A blender is really just a bit of plastic and metal with some electrical wiring and circuits.

    3D printers are already able to print up the plastic parts easily. And thought a bit harder, they can now also print the metal parts. The difficulty is the electric components.

    Nanowerk reports that researchers have been able to 3D print nanoelectronics. Lin Kong is one of the researchers. He said, ‘This work outlines an exciting breakthrough that enables the direct printing of functional, embedded, active 3D nanoelectronics using only a 3D printer.

    Kong continues to explain, ‘Indeed, this is the first time to our knowledge that semiconducting nanoparticles have been 3D printed, and the first time that such a broad array of diverse functional materials have been fully interwoven entirely using a 3D printer.

    Now this research was to ‘print interwoven structures of quantum dots, polymers, metal nanoparticles.’ With a little time and innovation, here’s what I think will happen. A big 3D printing company will release a printer that can print a fully functional electronic good.

    It might be a remote control car. It might be a blender. Maybe one day you’ll be able to 3D print a computer. I even believe that one day we’ll be 3D printing our homes, complete with electrical wiring and ready to move into.

    I’ve seen a 2D printer print off electrical circuits like a sheet of paper. It’s not going to be long until that’s a feature of consumer 3D printers.

    And that really would mean a huge disruption in manufacturing. 3D printing is far more than a handy tool for designers and hobbyists. It completely changes how the world manufactures.


    Sam Volkering +

    Editor, Tech Insider

    For Sam’s latest updates, follow him on Twitter.

    Tech Extra

    The headline for this was enough to get my interest. And then I had a look at the actual article and photos. Mind. Blown. Cars and tech will do that to me. And these are some of the most high tech cars in the world.

    I don’t know if the word ‘delicious’ is the word I’d use. My mate said he saw a guy in a trenchcoat by Port Melbourne the other day. This guy had on some VR-like goggles and was flying a drone. ‘Delicious’? No. ‘Weird’? Yes.

    Speaking of circuits, this is a novel idea to make phones better. High speed phone connectivity is essential in a connected world. And this might just make things work the way we expect it will.

    And this…

    One area off the coast of the Philippines contains up to 380 million barrels of oil. A hardened team of Aussie drillers holds exclusive rights to extract it…and they’re going for every last drop.

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