I'm pretty bullish on 3d printing. This bullishness seems to be spreading, with recent articles in the Wall Street Journal and The Guardian proclaiming that 3d printing is finally ready to transform the world. Before expanding on this, it’s important to clarify what “3d printing” means. Technically, “3d printing” specifically refers to additive manufacturing as an alternative to traditional subtractive manufacturing methods. Traditionally, parts have been made subtractively. A manufacturer will typically buy raw materials that have been prepared into larger, standardized forms; they will then cut these (with CNC milling machines or laser cutters) into the parts for their manufactured products. In contrast, “3d printing” usually involves a material extrusion method such as fused deposition modeling where the raw material hardens in its final form. However, I’ll also be using “3d printing” as a synecdoche for a variety of methods where you bring manufacturing of parts in-house by having an automated system which manufactures physical objects from CAD designs.