For last few years 3D Printing technology has been going through a cycle of innovation, testing, application, and back to innovation again. Various categories of end users such as start-ups, Small or Medium Enterprises (SME), hobbyists have been using the technology and based on the end-user feedback, improvements have been made not only in the 3D Printing technology but also in the materials being used.
Developments in 2018
The year 2018 was an important year for the 3D Printing industry. The two important developments were-
- The entrance of big names such as HP, Buggati, Adidas, Boeing, BMW in the Additive manufacturing arena
- ASTM released a set of standards detailing best practices for metal powder bed fusion processes to ensure quality for critical applications such as aerospace and medical industry
These developments have definitely grabbed the eyeballs towards 3D Printing as the next big thing in the manufacturing industry. According to industry experts, for the next five years, the annual market growth rate for 3D Printing will vary between 18.2% and 27.2% with the compound annual growth rate (CAGR) averaging at 23.5%. This means that the global 3D Printing market will double in size at approximately every three years. This is a great opportunity to exploit.
3D Printing Trends for 2019
Stakeholders are convinced that 3D Printing will fundamentally change the global manufacturing landscape. Till now, 3D Printing was being used primarily for prototyping. Let us see what to expect in 2019 in 3D Printing.
1. Union of Cloud and 3D Printing – Focus on Online Manufacturing Segment
Cloud Manufacturing (CM) is the new mantra in the manufacturing industry. It is a service-oriented business model where resources and manufacturing capabilities are shared on a cloud platform. Union of cloud manufacturing and 3D Printing is an important trend to watch for in 2019.
This union, which is commonly referred to as online 3D Printing, is capable of making intelligent decisions to provide the most sustainable and optimum manufacturing route at a competitive cost. Online 3D Printing falls under “3D Printing service providers” which belongs in the “services” segment. The latest estimates attribute approximately 37% of the total annual 3D Printing revenue to online 3D Printing orders. This market share is going to increase in 2019 as many start-ups and manufacturing service providers are foraying into online 3D Printing.
Chizel, a manufacturing company with technology at its core, offers a world-class Cloud platform: www.chizel.io powered by COCO BOT – the software brain the platform. COCO BOT is an AI-powered manufacturing bot designed to help product designers take smart manufacturing decisions and facilitate on-demand manufacturing at the click of a button. Chizel is the one-stop solution for all your online 3D Printing requirements from concept to production.
Chizel is the perfect example of how technology is helping manufacturing change its course. In 2019, this alliance of Cloud plus 3D Printing will take online 3D Printing to new heights and will impact the manufacturing industry significantly.
2. Standardization – Leading to wider adoption across industries
3D Printing or Additive Manufacturing (AM) is relatively in its early stages of development. Traditional manufacturing methods such as CNC machining, Sheet metal for metal production or injection Molding and Vacuum Casting for plastic parts have been in use for many years and therefore have industry standard methods, materials and processes in place.
For better adoption across industries, it is very important to develop standards for 3D Printing. Standardization will ensure consistency and quality for products created using 3D Printing. As the demand for 3D printed products is growing, many service providers and innovators like Chizel are developing and using best practices and quality standards to ensure uniform quality in every batch.
International organizations like ASTM and ISO are also coming up with standards specific to Additive manufacturing. In June 2018, ASTM released a set of standards which details best practices for metal powder bed fusion processes to ensure quality for critical applications. More granular standards from ASTM and ISO in 2019 will encourage wider adoption of 3D Printing. The picture below shows ASTM standards framework for 3D Printing.
3. Application-Driven Approach
Till recently, 3D Printing was limited to prototyping, but now it is being increasingly used for spare parts, tools, and consumer goods. Some of the many innovative applications of 3D Printing, in recent times, are:
- Adidas Futurecraft Sneakers with 3D printed insole
- BMW 3D printed parts for commercial vehicles
- Audi Plastics R&D using Stratasys J750 for prototyping.
- Gillette razors with customized 3D printed handles
- 3D printed parts for the cabins of Airbus’s commercial aircraft
Manufacturers worldwide are reversing the trend where rather than focusing on building new technology and machines, the industry is focusing on finding the right application of 3D Printing. Investments are also going to companies who are using 3D Printing to create value and market for 3D Printing. The aim is to expand the list of industries using 3D Printing and create a market for products rather than supply for a non-existing market.
According to Yash Rane, founder & CEO of Chizel, the cost of 3D printers and associated infrastructure has come down significantly, fueling the adoption of 3D Printing technology in batch production of many new products.
“I see 2019 as the year where we will see good use of 3D Printing in batch production. Prices have come down significantly in last 3 years. Definitely we are not looking a 3D Printing only for prototyping now”
– Yash Rane, founder & CEO of Chizel.
This is an interesting trend because the application of 3D Printing in place of traditional manufacturing methods is not an easy transition. Design engineers need to adopt a new set of rules: it is a move from ‘design for manufacturing’ to ‘design for Additive manufacturing’. To support these new entrants, many service providers are providing consultancy in design for Additive manufacturing.
4. 3D Printing will Become Smarter and Easier to Use
As adoption of 3D Printing increases, the pressure to make it user-friendly will mount. It will eventually lead to an optimized and streamlined process flow, technology-neutral solutions and interoperability.
In 2019, manufacturing service providers are expected to provide integrated solutions aimed at taking 3D Printing one step closer to smart, connected factories. By incorporating IoT capabilities along with 3D Printing, end users will be able to send commands to 3D printers and the machines will collect and send the data back in real time. To implement such features, connectivity and data processing capabilities will be added to 3D Printing.
Currently, post-processing in Additive manufacturing is the least optimized and manual process requiring skilled workers. We can also expect improvements in the process flow where a lot of pre and post-processing will be automated thereby reducing the manual labour and associated costs.
Making 3D Printing easier to use and educating the prospective users will result in widespread adoption of the technology.
5. Focus on Software to Boost Productivity
User-friendly software interface plays an important role in the adoption of any new technology. Apple products are classic examples of user-friendly products.
Software makes it possible to automate tasks throughout the 3D Printing process from designing, to post-processing, to data security. Automation in pre and post-processing brings the cost down, improves the efficiency and helps in making 3D Printing scalable.
Take the example of COCO BOT, the software brain behind Chizel’s on-demand manufacturing platform www.chizel.io. It makes the entire printing process easy to use and has features such as the Wall Thickness Analysis (WTA) tool to help the designers.
A user can simply upload the 3D CAD files for the product on www.chizel.io, select the desired processes and material. COCO BOT reads the design and computes it just like a human. It analyses the part geometry and performs the manufacturing analysis of the part across various manufacturing processes using smart algorithms.
Once COCO BOT figures out that the part is manufacturable, it recommends the design modifications in the part which are necessary for manufacturing. With the click of a few buttons, users can finalize the design, place the order and the product will be 3D printed and shipped to them.
Using the simulation software, the entire printing process can be understood before starting the print. The insights from the simulation can be used to improve the product quality by making changes to the design, reduce wastage and increase machine uptime. The simulation also helps in identifying potential error before printing which can bring down the production cost and increase profitability. Hence, software is going to be the key to boost productivity and reduce the cost of 3D Printing in 2019.
6. Development of new materials for 3D Printing
Another trend reversal observed in 3D Printing is the development of new materials suitable for the new application of 3D Printing. So instead of waiting for the new material to be developed, businesses are finding new applications and material manufacturers like BASF are willing to develop the material based on specifications provided. Thus, fueling the growth of the 3D Printing market in 2019.
This trend is very useful for industries like medical and aerospace that require customized materials with specific properties. Now such industries can adopt 3D Printing without compromising on the quality or performance.
With the entrance of material companies like DSM, SABIC, BASF, Solvay, Mitsubishi Chemical, and Arkema in 3D Printing arena, the choice of available materials for Additive manufacturing is continuously expanding. Many new plastics have been developed along with machines and procedures for printing with glass, paper, ceramics, wood, cement, graphene, and even living cells.
Applications are now available in industries ranging from aerospace to automobiles, from consumer goods to health care. For example, 3D Printing can be used in the healthcare industry to create artificial limbs or bones to facilitate highly personalized treatment plans.
Additive manufacturing is growing from prototyping to a viable option for industrial production. Lack of knowledge and understanding of the technology is cited as a common barrier to adoption of 3D Printing in large enterprises. Recent innovative applications of 3D Printing by well-known enterprises such as BMW, Adidas and Boeing in 2018 has set the stage for further expansion of 3D Printing market in 2019. New users and manufacturers are expected to include Additive manufacturing in the mix.