3D printing exploded onto the world stage as something that one could do at home to create unique knick-knacks but it has quickly matured, growing to significantly impact a number of commercial industries.

Today, it’s being used in industrial manufacturing, aerospace and defence, and automotive industries, and it won’t be long before it also impacts on the pharmaceutical industry. Revenue growth and innovation are high on the list of benefits sought by those investing in 3D printing, but the technology is proving attractive for other reasons, too.

Prototypes can now be produced quickly and affordably, low-volume and on-demand product manufacturing is eminently possible, as are individual and customised items. Further, it simplifies both complex design and assembly configurations.

While the benefits add up quickly, industry still faces a hurdle when it comes to utilising 3D printing: the skilled staff required to deploy it. According to PwC’s 2017 Digital IQ Survey, 3D printing is expected to be the fourth most disruptive technology to industry over the next five years. Currently, 12% of businesses are investing in it (rising to 17% in the next three years), but only 5% believe they are quite or highly skilled in it.

The gap can be closed. By creating learning environments in which specialists are encouraged to collaborate across business teams, and with executives taking a hands-on role in their own learning and investing in that of their employees, transformation can be brought back onto an even keel.

Then it will be time to print the future.

Infographic: Printing the future with 3D technology

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