A Cambridge University technology expert says the best way to manufacturing success is to improve our knowledge of technical and commercial 3D printing.
Dr Tim Minshall, Reader in Innovation and Technology Management at the University of Cambridge, is head of the Institute for Manufacturingâs Technology Enterprise Research Group.
The organisation is undertaking a research project supported and funded by the EPSRC and ESRC and studies both the reality and possible role that 3D printing could play in the UK economy.
The group also conducts a UK research and industry network focussed on 3D printing-enabled redistributed manufacturing.
Dr Minshall, who is also part of the steering group that develops the UK National Strategy for 3D printing, gave an in-depth explanation of how he sees the best future for 3D printing.
He began by stating that going back three years, there was much hype surrounding 3D printing technology and that they would be the hub of a modern industrial revolution.
Since then, he believes the clamour has died down somewhat as we begin to set more realistic expectations of the reality of the technology.
Dr Minshall believes that in order for UK manufacturers to benefit from the technologyâs opportunities, there must be a coherent approach to dealing with its obstacles.
He continued that companies with a good understanding of how the process works will have a commercial inters to prevent it from becoming freely accessible.
He stated that this, combined with the media hype surrounding the technology, has resulted in a complicated state of affairs that makes it difficult for manufacturing firms to properly gauge the potential of the technologies.
He said that one thing that is evident is that the technologies are increasingly used in various sectors and that UK manufacturing companies must make sure that they fully understand both the positive and negative aspects of the technology.
In terms of the UK adopting the technology, he added that recently there has been a keen drive to analyse and acknowledge the primary limitations of adopting 3D printing in a wider sense.
Agents across the manufacturing industry, government and universities are cooperating to establish a national approach for UK 3D printing to be showcased later in 2016.
Dr Minshall concluded by saying that there is a pressing need to advance our technical and commercial understanding of the 3D printing technology processes to make sure that UK manufacturing firms are able to fully benefit from them.