Costing between $400 and $500,000, three-dimensional printers are being used in many different business applications and industry sectors. Still, industry observers don't expect the technology to be a disruptive factor to manufacturing. "I think 3D has the capacity to impact both products and processes," says Cliff Waldman, a senior economist at MAPI. "I am not ready to say that it is completely disruptive, however. It might be in a few narrow industries."

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