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    • Protect the environment. Think before you print.

The benefits and challenges of 3D printing

April 27, 2016

3D printing can bring many benefits to businesses, healthcare and the environment--and challenges come with it, too.

benefits and challenges of 3D printing infographic

Potential benefits

Business benefits

  • Faster product development cycles through prototyping 
  • Cheaper costs of systems, leading to niche business development 
  • Customer-centered design and feedback
  • Short-run production solutions and market testing

Health & medical benefits

  • New procedures to produce living tissue for organ replacement and bone material 
  • Improvement from current techniques, which may allow 100% of cells to live in reproduced organs, instead of the average 50 – 80%1 

Environmental benefits

  • Less waste material and fuel production
  • Longer product life spans, leading to fewer unsold products to end up in landfills

Challenges: unprotected, untested, unregulated

Digital software challenges

  • Unpatented digital software programs can be copied and sold by anyone
  • Reverse-engineered objects can be sold at a cheaper price 
  • Increased opportunity for counterfeit products 

Supply chain challenges

  • Additional attention required when handling raw materials and quality control systems 
  • Potential for defective products  and the challenge of determining who is liable for the defect 
  • Applicable laws still being developed regarding 3D-printed product liability
  • Uncharted territory for users



1 Houston Methodist. (2014, February 10). ”New live-cell printing technology works like ancient Chinese woodblocking.” ScienceDaily.    Retrieved September 21, 2015.