The future of 3D printing by Barbara Hanna founder and CEO of Cyant

Barbara Hanna is the founder and CEO of Cyant. The company connects art and technology, to foster learning, creativity and engagement.

Cyant are working on a creative platform, to obtain, design and 3D print without the need for complex software. Barbara Hanna’s background is in the technical sector with a BEng/MEng from the University of Cambridge UK and a PhD in Computer Vision from the Center For Vision Speech And Signal Process at the University of Surrey.

3D Printing – The Next 5 Years by Barbara Hanna, PhD

Five years ago, it struck me how much, despite the hype, there were a lot of challenges to overcome, from printing speed to ease of design, to democratizing 3D Printing.

The technology uniquely bridged the gap between digital and physical, and had the potential for opening new outlets for learning and creativity. However, it seemed paramount to offer intuitive tools and ways to create, and make this technology as accessible to as many people as possible, regardless of gender, background and learning ability.

Still, the field offered the promise of connectivity and intersection between disciplines like few others, a key to innovation and solving the wide ranging problems the next generation might be facing.

So I founded Cyant to be part of addressing these opportunities and challenges, and to foster learning, creativity and engagement. It has been incredible to see the evolution of the industry since.

As a result, I am excited about the next five years. And while there are so many things we can look forward to, from healthcare disruption to space exploration, here are themes that I get particularly enthralled about.

Creative Tools And Education

STEAM learning now needs no further introduction, and 3D Printing has clearly gained clear ground as an essential technology for teaching and learning within that framework.

However, there is still an overall lack of tools and platforms that could let children (of all ages!) learn and design with 3D Printing in an easy and intuitive way. And a question that is often raised is: what can I do with with 3D Printing?

At Cyant we felt that the connection between art and technology was a fundamental premise for developing solutions that stimulate learning and creativity while increasing accessibility from inception. So we are developing software tools and workshops that integrate art and design, as well as other disciplines, consistent with STEAM.

Our tools also enable relatively shallow models to be created and printed so the time needed to print is more manageable. We are not alone in recognizing that more can and should be done in the field of education, and companies from startups to larger companies are also working to address this. So the next five years will likely see more platforms and learning ecosystems, perhaps specializing in specific industries, age groups or other demographics, perhaps intersecting with other technologies such as AR and VR.

Gender Diversity

One exciting development is that a growing number of players are recognizing the need to encourage gender diversity in 3D Printing, and increasing the number of girls using and shaping the technology. The next 5 years will certainly see more visibility and participation of girls and women in this industry as a result.

Here I’d like to highlight our work with partner Women In 3D Printing and founder Nora Toure, who is working to promote and support women using additive manufacturing technologies.

Together, we have co-founded an educational and industry specific event series called #3DTalk that features a panel of women sharing their personal expertise and insights on a monthly basis and in different cities.

There is still much work to do, but based on the response we’ve seen, and other initiatives across the world, we can expect to see tangible outcomes in gender participation over the next 5 years.

#3DTalk is a series of events launched by Women in 3D Printing and Sculpteo to talk about the big questions facing additive manufacturing. Image via
#3DTalk is a series of events launched by Women in 3D Printing and Cyant to talk about the big questions facing additive manufacturing. Image via

Materials And MetaMaterials, Sustainability and Mass Customization

These are themes that are tremendously exciting, so it has been fascinating to witness the constant interconnected progress in these areas. On the one hand, new and increasingly biodegradable materials are now routinely brought to market.

Furthermore a key and inherent disruption enabled by 3D printing, the integration of form/structure and function at core, is giving rise to new metamaterials and designs (MIT). On the other hand, many industries are recognizing the opportunity to transform design practices, better manage inventory through on demand production, and reduce waste with 3D Printing.

With the launch of 3D printed products in markets such as design (Othr), footwear (Adidas / Parley), and more, we are poised to see a rapid evolution towards more sustainable and virtuous production cycles. At the same time, products will be increasingly tailored to specific needs or even personalized.

So we are likely to see shifts in how consumers adopt new products with new emotional and personal engagement, tied to sustainability and customization.

Again educating the next generation around these shifts and developing platforms that support this evolution will be key. And personalization with 3D Printing can apply to learning too, adding a tactile and direct dimension to the experience: for example, our tools support printing a child’s own words and alphabet to support literacy or learning a language.

Given these themes, we look forward to seeing what “Cyantists” of all ages, genders and background, learn and create!

You can find out more about Cyant here and follow them on twitter here.

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Featured image shows Barbara Hanna, founder and CEO of Cyant.