3D Systems CEO Avi Reichental Discusses How 3D Printing is Disrupting Industries at June 19 Titans Series Event

On June 19, about 400 members of the region's technology community gathered at The Ritz-Carlton, Tysons Corner for a Titans breakfast featuring 3D Systems President and CEO Avi Reichental. During his address, Reichental discussed how 3D printing is manufacturing the future.

3D printing is an “overnight success 30 years in the making” according to Reichental. The technology, invented by Chuck Hull in the 80s, is not just for big companies he said – startups and schools are now in the 3D space, and soon we will have 3D printers in our homes as well. In addition, 3D printers are becoming faster and cheaper. They compress the time it takes to get a product to market, opening up new paths and business models that were once only available to big companies.

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3D Systems CEO Avi Reichental addresses the audience at the NVTC Titans Series Event on June 19, 2015 at The Ritz-Carlton, Tysons Corner.

With 3D printing, “complexity is free,” according to Reichental, because once the printer and its materials are purchased, there is no cost difference between a tiny figurine and a fully functional prosthetic limb. 3D printers cater to personalization, allowing people to create their own crafts, accessories, etc., according to Reichental. Soon we may also see them used for personalized nutrition. And the longevity of these products, he said, is dependent on the materials. Currently additive manufacturing can print parts with 20 ferrous materials/alloys. 3D printers can also use recycled plastics, reducing our carbon footprint.

Reichental highlighted how using 3D printers in schools can help improve children’s digital literacy, creating a learning bridge “from virtual to actual.” He also discussed a host of other fields that are already benefiting from 3D printing, including functioning direct metal parts for manufacturing, personalized devices, virtual reality surgical simulators, zero gravity printing in space, and more.

Discussing the future of 3D printing, Reichental shared that years down the road we will see bones and organs commercially printed, as well as customized prescriptions. "We need to look at 3D printing as a critical step... in what I call hybridized personal fabrication," he added. Soon we will be able to make an Internet search to print what we need. 3D printers will also move forward, as 3D Systems and other companies are developing computing systems that allow you to see and touch your creation, as well as enhance and modify it.

Reichental also addressed the potential for wrong-doing with 3D printing. He argued that, while the technology can create tremendous positive disruption, it’s “up to us to make sure the technology is used for good instead of evil.”

In his closing remarks and during a robust Q&A session from the audience, Reichental said that companies have to "disrupt or be disrupted," adapting to additive manufacturing and new 3D printers and products. "This is the beginning of the journey in terms of manufacturing the future," he said, and “we live in one of the most exciting eras in history.”