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The Future of 3D Printing

Are You Ready for the Disruption 3D Printing is
Going to Unleash on Your Business?

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3D Printing is already changing manufacturing and design processes, but the industry is poised for an even greater shift. Advancement in 3D printing processes will increase speed, complexity of materials, and quality of prints, while decreasing costs.

Though 3D printers have been in development for over 20 years, businesses have shown uneven adoption across commercial and industrial applications. We believe that the forces driving adoption are becoming aligned and 3D printing technology is poised to disrupt diverse sectors across the economy.


» Adoption– 3D printing is still seen as an emergent technology and adoption is limited by available materials for processing.

» Technology– Printing systems are becoming faster and cheaper, enabling a higher volume of manufacturing output and increased adoption by manufacturers.

» Consolidation Of Printer Manufacturers– As printers are commoditized, top players are looking to boost market share and add technical capabilities through acquisition.

» Data & Device Management– Regardless of where and when 3D printers get deployed, the value in the use of these systems will largely be in the data that is created and captured. 

» Materials Development– The inability of printers to utilize diverse materials limits adoption.


The 3D printing value chain consists of systems manufacturers, systems providers, materials and software suppliers, and end users and customers. Major manufacturers are competing with emerging players to deliver this new disruptive technology while top software players will continue to align with leading printer manufactures for end-to-end solutions. Emerging players are capitalizing on customization and integration of advanced materials to enable new forms of specialized additive manufacturing.

Although the overall growth opportunities and future use cases for 3D printers are well defined, the timing of their adoption is very dependent on technological development and remains relatively uncertain. Regardless of where and when 3D printers get deployed within the manufacturing sector, value creation will largely reside in the data that is created and captured.


Harbor has identified two use cases where established players are starting to leverage 3D printing technologies in an applied fashion: 

In Healthcare 3D printing is now being used by medical professionals to fabricate life like 3D printed replicas of a patient’s organs. GE Healthcare is looking at ways in which it can pair its advanced computer tomography (CT) scanning equipment with new 3D printing technologies to deliver next-generation healthcare solutions for doctors and patients.  

In the industrial and manufacturing markets, 3D Systems, a provider of both metal and plastic printing systems, announced plans to enable its 3D printers with the ThingWorx Platform for remote services. The combination of these systems is designed to maximize printer availability and productivity. The partnership with Thingworx will allow customers to gain actionable intelligence into their printers’ utilization and materials status through real-time dashboards. 

While 3D Printing is still in its early-stages today, moving forward, as players continue testing combinations of materials in different usage schemes, the bulk of use cases will likely focus on spare parts replacement making 3D printing a viable alternative to traditional manufacturing processes. The shift to 3D-enabled processes is likely to be slow because legacy businesses will view this technology as both untested and disruptive in nature, making buy-in from management a key-hurdle for businesses to overcome.

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