If you go by the current forecasts, the global spend on 3D printing technology is expected to rise from $11 billion in 2015 to approximately $27 billion in 2019.
It was not very long ago that 3D printing got introduced to the world with too much fanfare. We all began visualising a 3D printer in every home and office in the very near future. We are yet to see this happen.
Is the buzz around 3D printing really going to become a reality in future? We do not have a clear answer still; the potential of 3D printing still looks very bright, though.
“Is the buzz around 3D printing really going to become a reality in future?”
As we see it, the current scenario can be explained with these 3 key undercurrents:
Mass Consumer adoption is yet to happen
It has still not become as essential commodity as a smartphone. Why? Consumers are yet to see a user-friendly version of a 3D printer.
Although it sounds very cool to say that you printed your own door handle or coffee mug, but it is still far more convenient to buy these items online or from a nearby store. There is still a possibility of a 3D printer in every home, but for now, it is elusive, still.
Talking about Industrial space, things are a bit different. According to latest PWC study, more than 70 percent manufacturers in US have adopted 3D printing technology; the growth here is still at a double-digit level. Probably this increase in demand is going to bring about the next phase of development.
Let’s wait and see.
Major Brands have already adopted 3D printing
GE recently acquired two European 3D printing companies valued at $1.4 billion recently. They expect to save $3 billion to $5 billion in cost of production costs spread across next 10 years.
Another very encouraging development has happened at HP. They introduced their first 3D printer, the HP Jet Fusion 3D Printing Solution. This industrial printer is the first one that prints parts at the voxel level (a voxel is a tiny cube, size of 50 microns – 3D equivalent to a 2D pixel). This is going to enable the possibility to print even a single part with many materials and colors, and also embed electronics. Further, HP says this printer will be able to produce parts 10 times quicker and that too at half the price compared to other 3D printing methods.
We see these investments as a wise financial risk by these key manufacturers; they are proving to be important and historical milestones in the evangelisation of 3D printing’s possibilities and scale of economy.
These steps will definitely benefit the overall manufacturing ecosystem.
Prototyping-to-Production Transformation has started
As a result of recent advancements, product development engineers are witnessing that designing for 3D printing is creating more adoption in the use of the technology for end-use production parts.
One encouraging trend is in materials. Several resins and metal powders meet mechanical and electrical part requirements, at the same time delivering the part quality and production cost efficiency.
How Longer do we have to wait still?
“3D printing in industrial production has arrived for sure”
As per a PWC survey, nearly 7 percent US manufacturers use 3D printing for end-use production as on date.
3D printing in industrial production has arrived for sure. A lot of ground is yet to be covered. We now wait to the technology to evolve and make it possible to produce parts on a mass level, saving billions of dollars.