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Once only known through science fiction, 3D printing or additive manufacturing (AM) has now become a must-have for engineering companies as well as a useful consumer tool. It is the only technology that allows an individual to design, create, and print an object of any shape or size imaginable.
The layer wise production process of AM enables greater flexibility and creativity in the product design. Designers do not have to design for manufacture of products and can develop parts that can be completely redesigned so that they are stronger in areas they need to be. 3D printing also speeds up the design and prototyping process and parts can be created within hours.
The market for 3D printing is witnessing substantial growth in recent years. Driving it are factors such as the benefits of 3D printing such as reduction of errors, a decrease in development cost and time, and the ability to build customized products. Furthermore, an increase in application in healthcare and its growing application in various industries are likely to offer growth opportunities for the market. The market is expected to accrue a sum of $44,393.1 million by 2025, registering a CAGR of 21.8% from 2019 to 2025, says research firm, Allied Market Research.
Recognizing the potential of 3D printing, many manufacturers in the space are coming up with new 3D printing solutions. In February ’19, Carbon, the leading digital manufacturing platform, launched several 3D printing solutions for the dental market in collaboration with Dentca, a company providing accurate dentures, and Dreve, a German medical and dental device company.
DENTCA Denture Base II and DENTCA Denture Teeth are two FDA-cleared (Class II) materials for 3D printed dentures, while DREVE FotoDent gingiva and DREVE FotoDent tray are new choices for gingiva masks and dental impression trays. In February ’19 again, Ultimaker, a 3D printing company, introduced a cloud platform aimed at supporting the 3D printing workflow. The cloud services under the platform include remote 3D printing, interrupted access to the Marketplace, Marketplace ratings, and the possibility to backup user settings for remote access. Evonik Industries, a chemical industry company, unveiled a new polymer powder for 3D printing applications in a higher temperature range.
The new product is developed to offer great mechanical strength and chemical and temperature resistance. Recently, students from Northern Illinois University adopted 3D printing technologies to help RadMax Technologies, a product development firm to improve its proprietary axial vane rotary devices. Farsoon Technologies, a global solution supplier of industrial-grade polymer (plastics) and metal laser sintering systems, launched an additive manufacturing method called Flight Technology for improving the productivity of plastic laser sintering. The technology makes use of powerful fiber lasers which offer increased laser durability and energy absorption.
As more and more companies are adopting 3D printing machines to design end-products and working prototypes, understanding the trends that would mold the future of this technology is important. One of the recent trends is the 3D printing machines that are cheaper and faster.
This is because sales would increase further, and the applications of 3D printing would grow. Another trend is that software will become part and parcel for various 3D printing operations at every stage – from design/simulation to workflow management.
For instance, with the advancement in simulation software, the printing parameters can be better understood which can help reduce material wastage, enhance process reliability, and make the best use of machine uptime. Another trend is developing standards for 3D printing, which will be a primary driver for the industry.
To conclude, the 3D printing industry is indeed in a phase of rapid transformation. As the industrial world makes a move towards a more autonomous and connected world, more companies in the space would come up with new solutions pertaining to 3D printing.