Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Is 3D Printing Ready For Mainstream in AEC?

Recently, there have been some posts in the LinkedIn group called 3D Printing for Architects that addressed the usage of 3D printing in mainstream practice. The discussion started with this question:

What percentage of architects actually use 3DP for creating models? Has it become part of the standard design process, or just a really cool fad …?

Over the past three years, I have seen growth in interest and adoption of 3D printing in architectural firms, even during the economic downturn. Is it industry standard yet? Probably not. But I believe that we are well into the early adopter phase and about to take that big leap across the chasm! Why do I believe this? Well, aside from seeing year-over-year growth in the sales of ZPrinters in AEC, we are now witnessing quite a phenomenon for an event that Z Corp. and its channel partner, Microsol Resources, have organized for March 15th in New York. A panel discussion including speakers from large firms Foster+Partners, The Port Authority of NY/NJ, a medium large firm Pelli Clarke Pelli, and a small practice Andrew Chary Architect will take place during the evening at The Great Hall of The Cooper Union.

Originally, we planned to host this event across the street in the new Cooper Union building where the auditorium holds 200 people. However, as of this blog posting, we have exceeded 500 registrations! Fortunately, The Great Hall holds 900 people (history tells us that Abe Lincoln filled the hall during his presidential campaign when he delivered the famous Right Makes Might speech). Our panelists may not be campaigning for political office, but they do have great stories to tell about 3D printing as a strategic and integral part of their respective design practices. Why the sudden interest in this technology by so many people? We are not quite sure if it’s the Cooper Union venue, the AIA credits, the esteemed panel, or the subject matter, but I am betting that most folks who are willing to commit 2+ hours of their time on a Tuesday night are seriously interested in crossing the chasm.