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CRAFTMANSHIP Tomoko Mitani, principal analyst at technology research firm Gartner, doubts the sector will spawn another Sony-like company but as the technology improves, it should make it cheaper for Japanese manufacturers to develop specialized goods. The technology is likely to spread to medical devices, non-manufacturers and lead to the creation of new companies and services, which will benefit the economy, she said. “Companies are providing 3-D printing services over the Internet, which could allow some manufacturers to order goods and have an interesting economic impact,” Mitani said. Another entrepreneur, Nobuki Sakaguchi, says the 3-D printer sector has struck a chord with some who hope it can reignite passion for Japan’s long tradition of perfectionist craftsmanship, known as “monozukuri” or “making things.” “The real value is this can inspire people and lead to new ventures in the future,” said Sakaguchi, chief executive of Open Cube Inc, which makes personal 3-D printers that melt plastic thread and deposit the resin to form an object. Sakaguchi, 39, who works from a small office in Yokohama, south of Tokyo, said one of the main obstacles for entrepreneurs is a culture that favours getting a secure job at a big Japanese company, many of which do not tend to reward creativity.
CRAFTMANSHIP Tomoko Mitani, principal analyst at technology research firm Gartner, doubts the sector will spawn another Sony-like company but as the technology improves, it should make it cheaper for Japanese manufacturers to develop specialized goods. The technology is likely to spread to medical devices, non-manufacturers and lead to the creation of new companies and services, which will benefit the economy, she said. “Companies are providing 3-D printing services over the Internet, which could allow some manufacturers to order goods and have an interesting economic impact,” Mitani said. Another entrepreneur, Nobuki Sakaguchi, says the 3-D printer sector has struck a chord with some who hope it can reignite passion for Japan’s long tradition of perfectionist craftsmanship, known as “monozukuri” or “making things.” “The real value is this can inspire people and lead to new ventures in the future,” said Sakaguchi, chief executive of Open Cube Inc, which makes personal 3-D printers that melt plastic thread and deposit the resin to form an object. Sakaguchi, 39, who works from a small office in Yokohama, south of Tokyo, said one of the main obstacles for entrepreneurs is a culture that favours getting a secure job at a big Japanese company, many of which do not tend to reward creativity.
(YUYA SHINO/REUTERS)

3-D printing is here, but will it bring profits?

There was an article in The Globe and Mail last week about how scientists are using the principles of 3-D printing to attempt to create a human heart. At about the same time, The Wall Street Journal published a lengthy story about how 3-D printing could revolutionize manufacturing by cutting both costs and timelines dramatically.