3D printing has been a growing trend in New York over the past five years. MakerBot, Shapeways, and BigRep are all based here. The technology has mostly been used for customized low-batch jobs, until now. Just this week, two new partnerships were announced suggesting 3D printing could disrupt traditional mass production and usher in the new era of “Mass Customization.”
Boeing has hired Norsk Titanium AS to print the first structural titanium parts for its 787 Dreamliner, a shift that the Norwegian 3D printing company said would eventually shave $2 million to $3 million off the cost of each plane. Norsk aims to have nine printers running by year-end at a 67,000-square-foot (6,220-square-meter) facility in Plattsburgh, New York.
Meanwhile, Adidas has partnered with Silicon Valley based startup, Carbon, to create shoes using a new technology called “digital light synthesis.” Most 3D printed materials are rigid or malleable and wouldn’t work well for a shoe. With Carbon’s technology, the material is springy and able to bounce back almost instantaneously. The technology could save time and money in the production process. “We can produce up to 100 times faster,” said an Adidas spokesperson.