Manufacturing advances often take time to catch on. Only later does their real significance become apparent.
Some of the new methods of 3D printing now emerging show that its shortcomings can be overcome. Adidas, for one, has started to use a remarkable form of it called “digital light synthesis” to produce the soles of trainers, pulling them fully formed from a vat of liquid polymer. The technique will be used in a couple of new and highly automated factories in Germany and America to bring 1 million pairs of shoes annually to market much more quickly than by conventional processes. A new technique called bound-metal deposition has the potential to change the economics of metal printing, too, by building objects at a rate of 500 cubic inches an hour, compared with 1-2 cubic inches an hour using a typical laser-based metal printer.
Read the full piece at economist.com.