3D printer (Image: Shutterstock)


What's holding back 3-D printing?

Over the past decade, 3D printing has increasingly demonstrated its versatility and efficiency -- bringing reduced waste, cost efficiency, high precision and usability to a broad range of applications. However, 3D printing has not yet reached its full potential. 

A recent Congressional Research Service report offers a broad overview of the technology and highlights its limiting factors. The main challenges 3D printing faces, CRS researchers concluded, can be reduced to three major categories: regulatory issues, safety threats and intellectual property conflict. 

Funding for the 3D printing industry remains uneven. Funding needs to be allocated to additional R&D for both the technology and printing materials, as well as for education and training resources to prepare the workforce. 

Additionally, regulatory agencies still need to account for the large influx of 3D printing technology and products. Additional standards also are needed to provide structure and consistency to the industry. 

As with any technology, 3D printing has the potential to be used in risky and unpredictable ways. The threat of malicious actors using it to produce contraband our counterfeit products remains prevalent, and there is the risk of printers or design files being hacked to introduce defects into the printed objects.

The full report can be found here

About the Author

Anoushka Deshmukh is an intern with Public Sector 360, writing for GCN, FCW and Defense Systems.

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