The technology has developed to a very large extent but it is still away from many, in terms of cost which is very obvious considering it is fairly new. But i can certainly say that it is not over hyped. Consider the following situations;
- You have a very old car/bike that is very close to your heart. Being a machine it is open to breakdown of a parts that you are not able to find in the shops because it is not in production now or the structural features of the part has changed. What will you do? Instead of roaming in the market for the search of that part,you can instead ask of the 3D model of that part and get it printed via vendors. This may sound nuts today but in the very near future most of the repair shops will have 3D printers to avoid inventory.
- 3D printing is widely used in medical sector where patient specific customisation is required in cases like knee replacement, artificial teeth etc. These products are not ‘make one and fit all’ type. They are needed to be made customer specific.
- 3D printing is widely used in rapid prototyping. Here parts are printed, assembled and performance specific tests are done on it, and with the inputs obtained from tests are implied on the parts and is again 3d printed for further iterative testing. The point to be noted here is that the lead time is reduced to a very large extent. Companies can make better use of their R&D sector and faster results can be obtained at a lower development cost.
- If the 3D printing keeps growing at the current rate that the time is not far when people will have a personal 3 D printer at home. The manufacturing companies of today will turn into providers of CAD models which can be downloaded over the internet and printed at home. This will reduce the cost of component drastically as now the companies will not have to set up shops all over the globe. The Costumer will be the biggest benefactor here.
This list is ever growing. The possibility that that you could think of anything out of thin air and physically make it can propel us to say that 3D printing is under hyped.