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Inside 3D Printing: Terry Wohlers Keynote Address

Wohlers

The Inside 3D Printing keynote this morning was a state-of-the-industry address from Terry Wohlers of Wohlers Associates. The Wohlers Report is the definitive independent resource for gauging the state of business and technology in the 3D printing field, so having a chance to hear the latest observations from Wohlers — without purchasing the $500 guide — was an excellent opportunity for all of us in the room with any background or focus.

A few observations that I’d love to share include thoughts on how the media has been responding to the subject. The mainstream media prefers the term “3d printing” over the technical term “additive manufacturing,” so as a result the industry now uses the two terms interchangeably. Also, the media has been calculated to have filed a massive 16k articles last year as opposed to 1.6K articles in 2011.

One helpful point of reference to offer to mainstream readers is the degree to which dentistry has adapted to and perfected the practical application of 3D printing in the field — Wohlers shared the data that they estimate that 15k printed parts for use in dental work are printed every single day.

My favorite part was his list of what he sees as the five central “Myths and Misconceptions” that plague 3D printing in the popular media. While his arguments to refute each misconception skew towards an industrial-centric notion of these topics, I felt his list is very solid and worth thinking over:

MYTHS: 3D Printing/Additive Manufacturing is:

  • “Push Button”
  • “Just as inexpensive to build one part at a time.”
  • “AM will replace conventional manufacturing.”
  • “AM can print guns.”
  • “Everyone will own and operate 3D printers.”

TerryWohlersTerry Wohlers, Principal Consultant and President of Wohlers Associates, Inc., has been named one of the most influential individuals in rapid product development and additive manufacturing.

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