The Future of 3D printing is bright and is an increasingly as important part of the manufacturing industry. With the increased usage of technology, conversations about additive manufacturing are a lot more reliable than they were just two years ago. Before, we were debating whether there is a financial or technological case to convert from traditional, high volume processes to an additive printer. Now, there are growing numbers of use-cases and demonstrable business benefits proving that additive can be used as a mainstream manufacturing technology.
3D printing has made considerable progress in 2021, with many milestones shaping the industry throughout the year. With a myriad of new developments, partnerships and applications, the industry continues to grow and become more consolidated.
As we move into a new year and a new decade, it’s only natural to wonder what the future holds for the 3D printing industry. In this article, we dive into 3D printing trends that will unfold over the next 12 months.
Automation in 3D printing
The 3D printing industry is growing in diversity, as the number of players entering the market increases.
One evidence of this trend is the 2020 edition of Formnext, the event attracting almost the entire industry. In 2020, it was by far the biggest ever: 852 exhibitors representing 35 per cent growth over the previous year.
The growing number of exhibitors is encouraging, as it means that the industry is on a steady growth path. But at the same time, this growth is signalling the increasing number of companies entering the market start-ups and spinoffs, with new technologies or their own take on existing ones.
In 2020, we expect this number to grow considerably, fuelling healthy competition and pushing companies to focus on innovation and development.
Design software for additive will become more integrated and easier to use
Until recently, focus on 3D printing software has been lacking, when compared with the hardware and materials segments. With 3D printing, designers have had to deal with a cumbersome design preparation process, where a lot of disparate design tools create an inefficient and complex workflow.
Furthermore, simulation software also needs to evolve to enable more accurate simulation results. Finally, the tools for designing for additive also need to become more intuitive and easier to use.
We anticipate 2020 to be the year when we see many of the software challenges being solved. Software innovations, particularly in the design space, will come into greater focus, unlocking a faster and easier 3D printing design process.
Protect to environment
3D printing is also allowing us to use old materials in new ways that are more sustainable. For example, researchers have figured out how to convert carbon dioxide into the concrete using 3D printing. Utilizing former waste to create future products makes our society have more efficient consumption. 3D printing innovators are even exploring how to make the process itself more sustainable, including using algae-based filaments to reduce the energy necessitated for the printing process. The creative use of materials and production methods opens up new possibilities as we approach climate action and sustainable living.
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