The 3D revolution is bringing about an irreversible change to the world. The 3D imaging technology is a central part of this change. And it’s causing a very fundamental shift in the functions of various industries. Having entered the market as somewhat of a novelty, industries have been quick to adopt 3D imaging and mold it to suit their needs. As a result of this upswing in the adoption and commercial-scale usage of 3D imaging, the global 3D imaging market is expected to grow to nearly five times its current size by 2021, predicts Transparency Market Research.
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The business intelligence firm says that the global 3D imaging market stood at US$3.51 bn as of 2014 and will show sturdy growth to touch US$17.99 bn by 2021, representing a 26.8% CAGR between 2015 and 2021.
What makes 3D Imaging a Transformative Technology?
The possibilities of 3D imaging, especially when combined with other 3D technologies such as additive manufacturing, can be limitless. From trinkets to sophisticated medical components, 3D imaging is introducing the world to disruptive solutions. Here’s how:
Advancing Manufacturing to the Next Level: 3D imaging has now made it possible for engineers to create basic prototypes and manipulate their scanned versions as desired to create highly complex objects and parts. Once the virtual improvements are made and the design frozen, the final prototype can be 3D printed. Besides optimizing the quantity of material used, 3D imaging has also helped speed up new product design giving manufacturers the power to bring their products to the market faster than before.
Making Image Acquisition Easier: A three-dimensional image of an object can be acquired via several different methods. While in some cases the use of 3D cameras is most preferred, technicians are also creating extremely intricate and complex images by using computed axial tomography (CT), which uses multiple x-rays to render the exact internal structure of an object on a display screen. In addition to cameras and CT, the 3D imaging market now also carries sensors and lasers that can be used to render an a detailed image of an object. LIDAR, for example is used for 3D imaging projects involving landscapes.
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Helping Save Lives: The healthcare industry, which is characterized by its focus on innovation, has adopted 3D imaging at several different levels. Bioprinting, which is a branch of 3D imaging and printing, is being widely used to design and print muscle, cartilage, and skin. For instance, scientists at the Wake Forest University recently were successful in creating a 3D bioprinting tool that can ‘print’ muscle tissue, synthetic bone, and cartilage. They even bioprinted a human ear that’s capable of being transplanted into humans.
The 3D imaging market, however, has more to offer than just advanced systems and experiments. Products that can be used by the average consumer in their everyday life are now increasingly trickling into the market. A case in point would be a hand-held 3D imaging system, Walabot, which enables people to see through liquids, objects, and materials. What’s unique about this system is that it can be downloaded on smartphones to instantly turn the ubiquitous device into a 3D imaging system. With 3D imaging technology percolating to the consumer level, the possibilities are indeed endless.