The size of the worldwide 3D printing industry is anticipated to nurture from USD 11.5 billion in 2020 to USD 31.2 billion by the year 2025 post COVID-19. So, during the tenure of 2019 to 2025, the market is predicted to grow at 18% CAGR.
This report is adequate to comprehend how promising the 3D printing industry will be in the post-COVID era. 3D printing, which is also known by the name of additive manufacturing, finds its inception in the 1980s. This technology includes the procedure of crafting objects from digital 3D model data. Starting from Aerospace, Automotive, Medical, Consumer goods; there is no such industry that does not require the utilization of 3D printing technology. This is mainly due to the benefits it offers. Few are:
- Rapid prototyping
- An inexpensive manufacturing process
- Product testing & tangible design
- Risk reduction
- Low costs lead to decreased product life cycles
In this blog, we will learn how 3D printing is superior to all other traditional industrial methods.
Evolution of 3D printing in the last 3 decades
We already know when 3D printing first made its way in this world. 1987 was the year that witnessed the invention of the first SLA printer by Charles Hull. Approximately the cost would be around $300k. However, with the total inflation of around 118%, the same printer cost around $650k in 2016. But slowly & steadily, due to an enhancement in demand & consumerism, 3D printers started costing around $1800.
The modern age is constantly witnessing new feats established with 3D printing technology. Companies have even developed 5 storied apartment buildings with the help of 3D printing. Not just that but they have even been successful to build 1200 square meter villas along with the complete external & internal decorations. This is just one example of what potential 3D printing holds. The highly-impressive technology urges us to ask about the achievements it will bring in the future.
If we take one example from the AI laboratory of CSAIL a few years back, we can see how they designed a 3D printing technique that enabled the simultaneous printing of both liquid & solid materials. Just with this technology with a solitary print run, they could print a completely functional robot. Also, they did not use some high-end printer to do this but accomplished this with an off-the-shelf printer. This industry is an ever-growing one. 3D printing largely affects the easiness of attaining innovative products that companies can market quicker & for less money.
How are industries integrating 3D printing in their manufacturing processes & operations?
The initiation of 3D printing is rewarding for the opening up of a wide array of possibilities for factory maintenance, development & research, production, etc. Few typical 3D printing uses in the manufacturing industry are as follows:
- Prototyping – The utilization of specialized tooling & molds comes under traditional prototyping methods. This is pricey & time-consuming. In contrast to this, 3D printing technology can create workable & fully-functional models for testing the end-products.
- Bridge manufacturing – It’s the process of utilizing the techniques of additive fabrication or producing low & medium working product quantities. This is before the availability of finalized tooling for creating the products in bulk. Companies can bring designs faster in the market with 3D printing this is a provisional manufacturing process.
The companies whose production rates are smaller can largely benefit from 3D printing. Some of the low-volume production applications are as follows:
- Test market production – 3D printing enables the cost-effective production of a restricted amount of products for performance & testing features.
- Entrepreneurial ventures – 3D printing can also produce limited units as proofs-of-concept for crowdfunding or investors.
Once a company decides to incorporate 3D printers in the manufacturing operations, it is vital to decide the printer type that will best suit the requirements. The most common printers that companies can use are stereolithography & fused-deposition modeling.
How can 3D printing offer companies a competitive edge?
Almost every company in the current times must invest in the technology of 3D printing. As per statistics, almost 72.1% of manufactures are already using this technology and 53% of them are of the view that the technology has immense potential to grow in the next 2 to 4 years. The ways 3D printing can offer companies a competitive edge against the business rivals are as follows:
- Superior quality products – It is just quality that matters when it comes to the contemporary customer. 3D printing solutions aid companies in marketing superior quality products but at much lower costs. The 3D printer that is computer-controlled renders an accurate replica of the initial product & ensures that the quality is just like the original one. This explains the production of products like aircraft parts, dental braces, and satellite parts with the help of 3D printers.
- Minimal manpower – Working a 3D printing machine is not labor-intensive in contrast to the conventional manufacturing plant. The 3D solutions are not just computer-controlled but these integrate Smart technology as well. Hence, the number of individuals needed to maintain a 3D printer is also less. The printers that we find today not only use an array of raw materials but also can be incorporated with a variety of software. 3D printers can also be operated remotely.
Industry-specific benefits of 3D printers
Aerospace and Defense
- Material efficiency – The procedure of 3D printing involves the production of layer by layer parts. On the other hand, the material is only utilized when needed. So the waste produced is less in contrast to conventional subtractive methods. The 3D printable materials that are available for defense & aerospace applications include metal powders like stainless steel, alloys, engineering-grade thermoplastics, etc.
- Speedier product development – The key portion of the product development procedure currently is prototyping. This provides a means of testing & validating the parts before their manufacturing. 3D printing is a technique that offers a quick approach to producing & designing parts. Product teams can boost the cycles of development as the requirement for tooling is abolished with 3D printing techniques.
- Design complexity – The most money-making technology in 3D printing is to produce parts carrying complex geometries. Some designs are impossible to generate with traditional manufacturing but these can be easily designed with 3D printing.
- Speedier time to market – The potential of accelerating the time of product development has a straightforward effect on the speed to market. As product engineers and designers are capable of validating and testing products faster with 3D printing, they can also boost up the time-to-market. Few companies have even used 3D printing products for testing of pilot products with consumers.
What should each industry do to integrate 3D printing at all levels?
Before making investments for the implementation of 3D printing, every industry must take these points into account.
- Why 3D printing at all? – The first question that a company needs to address is why it must utilize this technology. What new benefits it can acquire that it does not experience with the present methods? 3D printing does deliver savings in context to weight & materials but in some high-volume production applications, injection molding proves to be cost-effective. So it is important to think this technology will fit well in a company or not.
- What are the possibilities out there? – When a company thinks that 3D printing provides adequate benefits, it must first think why it wants to produce products with it. Also, the company needs to think about whether it makes prototypes, advertising materials, or structural components. If the company wants to discover the finest system for its needs, it must fully comprehend what it wants to be the result and what the technique involves. For instance, if a company wants to produce high-visual architectural models, it must use 3D printing full-color sandstone.
How Additive Accelerator can help?
Industries that intend to utilize Design for Additive Manufacturing can largely benefit from services provided by global suppliers like Additive Accelerator. The expert teams at Additive Accelerator help companies revolutionize manufacturing with scalable & transferable 3D printing solutions. The DfAM procedure empowers companies to craft better parametric, modular & intricate shapes in context to production with the use of 3D printers. It helps in decreasing not just production cost but material consumption as well.
Contact us today for getting hands-on benefits in the context of manufacturing costs, equipment costs, production volumes, etc.