3d printing

Mass Customization & The Value of 3D Printing

EnvisionTEC CEO Al Siblani promises an exciting future for the industrial 3D printing industry. As the opening keynote speaker for the 2015 TCT Show + Personalize, he gave an inspiring address at one of the world’s top 3D printing conventions. Considered a major 3D printing pioneer, he designed prototypes for the auto industry before starting his own design firm in 1993. Five years later he introduced the first industrial DLP printer.

Siblani’s presentation has been preserved on video, which you can see here. The interesting footage captures his thoughts on his history, the relevance of mass customization, the ups and downs of the industry and the future of 3D printing. One of his objectives was to explain what is happening in the industry beyond the hype. The 20th anniversary event exhibiting 3D technologies was held in Birmingham, UK and drew a record attendance.


How Mass Customization Adds Value

He emphasized that one of the keys to 3D printing’s role in disrupting various technologies is that it is dramatically cutting labor costs. Additionally, his team has figured out how to accelerate the prototype process, particularly for the jewelry business, in which EnvisionTEC created a solution for professionals to print jewelry in one hour.

Siblani explained how he was able to disrupt several other industries, creating dental, MCAD and hearing aid solutions throughout the 2000s. He also pointed out how other pioneers have been disruptive with 3D technology, including the breakthrough in printing real body parts by Dr. Rocky Tuan at the University of Pittsburgh. Tuan has been successful at developing custom printed cartilages for the health industry.


The Future of 3D Printing

Some of Siblani’s glimpses into the future include:

  • 3D printed custom industrial optics
  • 4D printing of dielectric elastomer actuators (DEA)
  • 4D printing of inflatable silicon structures
  • Electro spinning technology to produce custom 3D fabrics and textiles
  • Carbon composites for the aerospace industry

At the moment Siblani isn’t looking to put a 3D printer in every home. He views EnvisionTEC’s role as remaining in the industrial business to business space. He is concerned with 3D printing using printable ink. Siblani envisions further advancements in the health industry, particularly with custom mechanical energy implants that last forever, designed to fit specific patient needs.


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