Polymers, Productivity and Policy: 3D Printing Trends in 2019January 21, 2019
Materialise, The Netherlands-based provider of 3D-printing solutions with United States operations in Plymouth, MI, predicts the following trends in 2019.
Applications, not technology, will drive the 3D-printing industry forward. “Investments are not going to machine manufacturers anymore, but to companies and start-ups that apply 3D printing to create real added value in specific domains,” says Fried Vancraen, “Creation and stimulation of user demand is really going to accelerate 3D printing.”
A rise in polymer materials for 3D printing. Giovanni Vleminckx, a materials expert in Materialise’s research and development team, has observed a new impetus in material manufacturers to produce materials specifically for 3D printing, which could take new materials out of R&D labs and onto 3D printing production floors. “Now, large material suppliers are signaling their willingness and drive to push forward with 3D printing technology,” says Vleminckx.
Software will be the key to boosting productivity in 3D printing. With 3D printing reaching a new level of maturity, Materialise experts agree that as industries work on integrating 3D printing into their production mix, their challenges are less about technology and more about reducing costs and to increasing efficiency. “We need to get productivity and profitability up, and costs down. Software plays a key role in that,” says Stefaan Motte, software vice president at Materialise.
Technology-neutral interconnectivity, not proprietary solutions. For 3D printing to unlock that potential and claim a bigger share of the $12 trillion manufacturing market, the 3D-printing industry needs offer interoperability and technology-neutral solutions. “If we, as an industry, want to increase the adoption of 3D printing, we need to work together to provide more control, more choice in materials and systems and ultimately lower cost,” explains Vancraen.
Governments will get more involved. The emergence of 3D printing emerge as a discussion point in governmental environments will increase significantly in 2019, says Bram Smits, public policy officer at Materialise, and this can be expected to increase significantly in 2019. “It hasn’t always been easy for governments to see the bigger picture,” says Smits, “because the term 3D printing has been used for everything from rapid prototyping to serial manufacturing, making it difficult for governments to estimate the potentials and risks of 3D printing for citizens and what exactly they should seek to empower through policymaking.”
Slow revolution continues. “For 2019, we expect new users will continue to find their way towards additive manufacturing, and that we’ll see an increasing number of companies shifting their production to AM or adding AM into the mix,” says Vancraen. New product introductions will bring success and failure, and both are key for this steady growth, with the learning opportunities that they present. The stage is set for another year of incremental steps towards an additive future.
See also: Materialise USA LLC
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