Dubbed as the 3rd Industrial Revolution, additive manufacturing or 3D printing can unleash a series of benefits to businesses, but non-forward thinking is setting the technology back.
There are numerous obstacles standing in the way of 3D printing adoption, including lack of awareness by top management, the existence of affordable solutions, sustainability, industry standards and concerns around intellectual property.
On the technical side, Jose Coronado, product manager at PTC, said: "3D CAD systems are not aware of the additive manufacturing capabilities. There is also a lack of design tools and a lack of analysis tools for 3D printed parts.
"Other barriers include lack of integration with ERP and PLM, and more and better materials."
Speaking at LiveWorx in Germany, he also said that benefits of 3D printing for manufacturing include an economic low volume of production by, for example, "eliminating expensive tooling".
"It also increases geometric freedom so manufacturers can now produce any part shape, and the design complexity is unlimited."
Coronado said that other benefits include increased part functionality, product personalisation, improved environment sustainability with less material waste, and new supply chains and retail models that allows fabrication at the point of consumption.