Monthly Archives: December 2017

3D Printing set to revolutionize mainstream manufacturing

According to Gartner, 3D printing has great potential. Total spending is predicted to grow at a 66.5% CAGR to $17.7 billion in 2020 with over 6.5 million printer sales. Gartner also predicts that “by 2020, 75% of manufacturing operations worldwide will use 3D-printed tools, jigs and fixtures made in-house or by a service bureau to produce finished goods. Also, 3D printing will reduce new product introduction timelines by 25%.” Enterprise 3D printer shipments is also expected to grow 57.4% CAGR through 2020.

The top priorities related to 3D printing include accelerated product development, offering customized products and limited series and increasing production flexibility. Here are additional 3D printing market forecasts:

  • 57% of all 3D printing work done is in the first phases of the new product development
  • 55% companies predict they will be spending more in 3D printing services and solutions in 2017
  • 47% of companies surveyed have seen a greater ROI on their 3D printing investments in 2017 compared to 2016

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The value of additive manufacturing: future opportunities

Published in September 2017, in conjunction with Imperial College London’s Additive Manufacturing Network, this paper presents an overview of the potential economic, technical and environmental benefits of additive manufacturing (AM) – 3D printing – as well as the current hurdles across the AM process chain that need to be overcome to realise a more-effective and more-profitable industry. For example, improved design software, faster printing technology, increased automation and better industry standards are required.

Imperial College London is equipped to play a leading role in the UK’s ever-growing AM landscape. The current portfolio of AM-based research is varied and encompasses problems across the entire design-to-end-use-product chain. Research projects include, for instance, the development of new design methodologies for optimised multimaterial AM parts, novel metal-based AM printing techniques, investigations of fundamental AM material properties and 3D printing of next-generation biomaterials for medical applications.

AM research at Imperial can be further extended by capitalising on the College’s world-class scientific and engineering expertise and factilities, its culture of collaboration and history of effective research translation. There are several ways for external partners interested in the AM field to engage with Imperial academics: focused workshops, bespoke consultancy services, funding for specific research projects and facilities, or student placements

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AMT’s Automated Finishing Solution improves mechanical properties of 3D printed parts

UK-based Additive Manufacturing Technologies (AMT) is looking closely at an aspect of 3D printing that is critical but all too often swept under the rug in conversation: finishing. Optimization in design, speed and innovation in 3D printers, and strong, high-quality materials are only the beginning of the story of what constitutes a remarkable, useful print. Post-processing has long been heralded as the dirty little secret of the 3D printing world, and it’s easy to overlook what happens after a print job concludes in light of the technological achievements that led to that print job even starting in the first place.

AMT, though, is unafraid to confront post-processing — and its efforts have been rewarded by a receptive industry. Innovate UK awarded AMT as a recipient of a major grant early this year, and that influx of capital was just the jumpstart the company needed to advance its PostPro3D technology.

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3D Printing: The next great supply chain tool

Another tool in the supply chain toolbox, on-demand additive manufacturing promises lower inventories and costs, plus less waste.

adidas futurecraft 4d release date 5 5a09da816feb0The inability to perfectly correlate demand with supply has been a key riddle for supply chains and logistics throughout history. Too much product is a glut. Too little is a scarcity.

Striking a balance is hard, so suppliers use sophisticated algorithms to take their best shot at how much of their products will be needed at a certain time and a certain place to meet an uncertain demand.  Couple that with the need to produce products in large quantities to achieve economies of scale and the issue is exacerbated.

To deal with this, suppliers produce products in large quantities in low labor cost countries, ship and store those products near their customers, hoping that their demand projections turn out to be accurate. This projection is always imperfect, especially considering that the value of inventory in the United States alone was $1.8 trillion in 2015, according to the U.S. Department of Commerce. Assuming an inventory carrying cost of 25 percent, that’s $450 million U.S. companies pay each year to hold that inventory.

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Additive Manufacturing both ubiquitous and nascent

Hailey Lynne McKeefry

Four out of five manufacturers say that they are using 3D printing today. At the same time, prototyping claims the lion’s share of the activity. We are at a tipping point where, over the next few years, 3D printing will likely change manufacturing and its supply chain dramatically.

Add New“The reality is that he cost of printing has come down so much in the past few years that it is easy for anybody to be at least be dabbling in 3D printing,” John Dulchinos, vice president, Digital Manufacturing at contract manufacturer Jabil told EBN.  “A lot of it ends up being just that. However, anyone doing design work who isn’t using 3D printing is behind the curve.”

In short, the promise and complexities associated with 3D printing in manufacturing abound. “As one of the fundamental building blocks around 3D printing, additive manufacturing over time will have a profound impact on supply chain,” Dulchinos. “We were all starting at ground zero, though. There isn’t a lot of well-defined literature or history on using additive manufacturing for functional production parts.”

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European Parliament considers 3D Printing IP and Civil Liability

A badge with a character resembling Mickey Mouse in reference to the in popular culture rationale behind the Sonny Bono Copyright Term Extension Act of 1998, the badge was made by Nina Paley.The relationship between 3D printing, copyright, and the protection of intellectual property has experienced some strain due to its necessarily digital nature. Readers may remember a debacle surrounding the unauthorized sale of 3D printed designs by Louise Driggers (aka Loubie) – an issue that was quickly cleared up thanks to the online community.

In a landmark case running parallel to the industry, some of the grey areas surrounding design ownership were also resolved by the U.S. Supreme Court.

However, today in Brussels members of JURI, the European Parliament’s Committee on Legal Affairs, met to discuss intellectual property (IP) rights and civil liability of 3D printing.

In session with Conservative, Liberal and Green Party members Joëlle Bergeron, a member of the Eurosceptic Europe of Freedom and Direct Democracy group and former member of France’s National Front, presented an own-initiative report proposing legislative action to control and monitor additive manufacturing activity.

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3D-printed objects connect to internet without any electronics

Researchers at the University of Washington have succeeded in connecting 3D-printed plastic objects to the internet without the addition of electronic components.

Typically, devices require electronic components to send, interpret and receive signals via Wi-Fi. Given this, wirelessly connecting 3D-printed devices without the addition of electronic components had never been achieved.

“Our goal was to create something that just comes out of your 3D printer at home and can send useful information to other devices,” said Vikram Iyer, a graduate student at the University of Washington.

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Where could 3D printing work for my company?

“Just because you can 3D-print something doesn’t mean you should.”

Mike Vasquez, founder of digital manufacturing and 3D printing consultancy 3Degrees, guides companies looking to add 3D printing to their toolbox, and he’s quick to offer a reality check on the technology’s possibilities and limitations. “Just because you can 3D-print something doesn’t mean you should,” he says. “If you’re telling me that you want to recreate these screws and just use 3D printing for no justification, then that’s a challenge.”

Vasquez offers these questions for companies to answer in evaluating whether and where to incorporate 3D printing:

1. Are you saving time to production so you can get more product to the market sooner?

2. Will 3D printing allow you to reduce your inventory, creating more of an on-demand supply chain and saving on spare-part storage and maintenance costs?

3. How long is it going to take, really? “I think people underestimate the work that goes into post-processing,” Vasquez says. “If we’re talking about metals, you likely need to heat-treat or stress-relief that part afterward.” Plus, he says, a secondary heat treatment could be required, taking several days in some cases. SLM North America’s Richard Grylls notes: “If you imagine printing in layers of 30 microns and you’ve got a build height of up to 350 mm, depending on the laser run time and the amount of parts you’re building, it can take days to build a set of components on a build cycle.”

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3D: Rise of the metal printing machines

  • The 3D printer market is forecast to grow strongly in 2017 – 29% for Industrial printers and 20% for Consumer printers.
  • 3D Industrial metal printer companies have gained market share compared to 3D Industrial polymer printer companies.
  • Recent 3D metal printer acquisitions by General Electric and market entry of 3D polymer printers by Hewlett-Packard offer stiff competition to Stratasys and 3D Systems.

You wouldn’t know it from financial reports from Stratasys (SSYS) and 3D Systems (DDD), but the 3D printing industry is alive and well and growing. According to The Information Network’s report entitled “3D Printing: Material and Equipment Opportunities, Trends, and Markets,” Industrial 3D printers are slated to grow 27% in 2017. The Industrial segment of 3D printers is the sweet spot of metal printers, primarily because revenues of these high-priced units are growing at the expense of polymer printers.

The Industrial segment is characterized by high prices, low sales volume, and increasing average selling prices (ASPs). In contrast, the Consumer segment is characterized by low prices, high sales volume, and decreasing ASPs.

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Daimler Trucks launches 3D-printing technology in manufacturing to ease parts supply chain

Daimler Trucks North America (DTNA) announced Monday that it will make its first delivery of plastic parts produced using 3D printing technologies to its customers in the coming weeks, as part of a pilot programme. 

The company is confident that these new technologies will soon play a significant role in the trucking industry.

More importantly, DTNA sees 3D printing as an opportunity to better serve its customers, particularly those customers in need of parts that have been difficult to provide through traditional supply chain models, such as those for older trucks or parts with very low or intermittent demand.

During this pilot phase, DTNA says it will release a controlled quantity of 3D printed parts and will invite feedback from customers and technicians that receive them.

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