A 3D Printable Revolution

One way 3D printing is changing the world for the better – personalized prosthetics:

Bloomberg View’s editors suspect that this is only the beginning:

3-D printing is already having a demonstrable effect on the economy. Traditionally, it has been most useful in creating prototypes. But as GE and others are showing, printers will increasingly be able to produce critical parts and final products. In 2012, 28.3 percent of the $2.2 billion global 3-D printing market was tied to the production of parts for final products rather than prototypes, according to the Wohlers Report 2013. That shift could have profound implications for the economy and for public policy.

But all advances have their downsides:

3-D printing seems likely to throw a lot of people out of work in the medium term, especially in industries that depend on assembly-line labor. Eventually, as with most technological breakthroughs, it will probably create new jobs in new industries. But that transition period will be hazardous, and displaced workers will need help to navigate it. A recent report from the Atlantic Council predicts that 3-D printing “has the potential to be as disruptive as the personal computer and the Internet.” The comparison is apt. Three-D printing will make the world a very different place — and, with the right policies, a better one too.