So it wasn’t too surprising at the recent SXSW gathering to see 3-D printers busy cranking out doodads under the big tops of television networks and tech companies. You stood in line for a taco, you watched a link of plastic parts slowly emerge from a nearby machine.
But watching that (it gets dull after 30 seconds) didn’t make it easy to draw a line to the whole “saving manufacturing” idea. The machines were little more than props used by companies to add a veneer of, hey, we get the future, look at our 3-D printer! At night the printer was likely replaced by a DJ booth, which is to say, it was part of a show. The question that manufacturers and increasingly investors are asking is, when does the show end and the real work begin? Where does 3-D printing go in the next five to 10 years?
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