In 2007, 60 additive manufacturing machines — which make 3-D objects guided by a digital design — were sold to consumers. In 2011, that number skyrocketed to 23,000; more than a 38,000-percent increase. That year was the first consumer 3-D printers outsold professional machines, and the industry has only continued to boom since then. By 2017, the sale of 3-D printing goods and services could be around $6 billion, according to a recent industry report from Wohlers Associates.
The National Science Foundation has distributed more than $200 million in grants on additive manufacturing research and related activities – everything from liquid metal sculptures to school curriculum. The technology is quickly evolving. Recent research created a way to reduce 3-D print time from hours to minutes for multiple-material objects. Says one NSF leader: “We are only beginning to see what is now possible because of additive manufacturing.” Read the full story.
We are highlighting statistics from NSF-funded research in celebration of the 2013 International Year of Statistics. Look for them weekly on Tumblr.
Photo credit: National Science Foundation. The blocks in the image are cubelets: magnetic, electronic building blocks. Each has a small computer inside that can be connected in a variety of ways to do a variety of tasks — follow a hand signal, turn on a light, move around a table, play sounds and more. The cubelets were developed by Eric Schweikardt and his team at Modular Robotics, with support from the National Science Foundation’s Small Business Innovation Research program. Learn more here.