3D printed hip and knee implants market to witness widespread expansion during 2026

3D printing i.e. additive manufacturing involves a layer by layer process to create physical objects out of digital 3D blueprints. It was mainly used for rapid prototyping in the late 1980’s. However, it has now become a next-generation technology which can produce localised, on-demand final products or even spare parts. 3D printing is possible with a range of thermoplastics,  metal alloys, ceramics & various foodstuffs. It has seen an application in diverse areas like aerospace, retail, supply chain optimisation, & the medical industry. The 3D printed Hip & Knee Implants Market could dramatically improve both the effectiveness of surgery along with reducing the time taken to recover. It was pioneered by Dr Susannah Clarke and has already been used in hundreds of hip & knee surgeries across the world. It uses CAT scans to create a 3D blueprint of the damaged hip or knee joint to be replaced. Surgeons can then use this to practice the operation on a computer, deciding beforehand where to make incisions or how to realign the bone. The 3D printed hip & knee implant market will help to make replacement surgery much safer & quicker in the long run.

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3-D printing moves out of the hype cycle

So, how can something almost 30 years old actually be a NextGen technology? Is that actually possible? Yes, especially if you’re talking about 3-D printing, also known as additive manufacturing.

Well known in automotive and aerospace circles, 3-D printing has long been standard fare there for prototypes and continues to slowly come into its own for certain, limited production parts. But it has never realized what anyone would call critical mass. However, that is changing as 3-D printing makes headway in industrial and consumer goods as well as health care. That means it’s still early for 3-D printing, making it a true NextGen technology.

“We are moving beyond science experiments and out of the hype cycle,” explains Scott Schiller, global head of customer and market development for 3D printing at HP. “In fact, there was a rapid pivot in 3D last year as we saw a fundamental shift in how people look at the technology for practical applications. And that shift is having an enormous and real-time impact on its adoption.”

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Maine Pointe: How 3D printing will impact the global supply chain

3D printing is touted as one of the most disruptive developments in manufacturing and beyond. UK-based Simon Knowles, Chief Marketing Officer at Maine Pointe, reflects on the impact the innovative technology can have on supply chain management. He outlines potential benefits of the technology and five ways it will impact the supply chain. 

How 3D printing will impact the global supply chain

Also known as additive manufacturing, 3D printing is a process which uses a three-dimensional digital model to create a physical object by adding many thin layers of material in succession, subsequently lowering cost by cutting out waste. This is radically different from current, subtractive production methods where up to 90% of the original block of material can be wasted. Although we tend to think of it as a new technology, the first 3D printer was introduced nearly 30 years ago. 

So far, issues such as durability, speed and protection of intellectual property rights have prevented 3D printing from entering mainstream manufacturing. However, the industry is making rapid advancements and it’s only a matter of time before we see it significantly impacting global supply chains and operations. According to the Global Supply Chain Institute (GSCI), “some supply chain professionals predict 3D printing will eventually rival the impact of Henry Ford’s assembly line.” This technology has the power to help companies significantly reduce costs, overcome geopolitical risks / tariffs, improve customer service, reduce their carbon footprint and drive innovation for competitive advantage.

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Cummins sells first metal part from its own 3D printer, eyes high-volume production

Cummins has sold its first metal part printed on one of its own 3D printers, moving the company a significant step closer to the exciting potential of additive manufacturing.

The part was a low-volume bracket for a customer in Cummins’ New and ReCon Parts division and did not have a current supplier. The company is focusing first on printing low-volume parts as it studies how best to use 3D technology in higher volume manufacturing.

“With this technology you can really unshackle the designer to do things you just can’t do using traditional forms of manufacturing,” said Brett Boas, Director-Advanced Manufacturing at the Cummins Technical Center in Columbus, Indiana (U.S.). 

Cummins employee Devin Hunter cleans a 3D printer at the Cummins Technical Center in Columbus, Indiana, before another round of printing.

Parts can be made lighter, stronger and more effective using metal 3D printing compared to parts created using more traditional methods that employ molds, molten metal and equipment to precisely cut and shape the part.

3D printing creates three-dimensional objects one ultra-thin layer at a time. If the part doesn’t come out quite right, the designer can simply change the computer design file and print it again; a much faster process than using traditional manufacturing techniques to build a test part.

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CNH Industrial 3D prints its first spare part

The company produced four spare parts for fitment on buses and agriculture equipment.

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According to Automotive Logistics, the company produced four spare parts for fitment on buses and agriculture equipment. Each product can be printed within 24-36 hours with the optimal amount of resources.At the time of this publication, CNH did not disclose which parts were made.

Since the spare parts were printed in plastic, CNH is now conducting tests to enable future production of metal components using the technology. 3D printing offers the benefit of local, on-demand manufacturing and removed the need for small-scale deliveries, maximizing efficiency in the aftermarket supply chain, Automotive Logistics reports. 

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Despite growth, 3D printing represents only 0.1% of global manufacturing

Interest in 3D printing technology is increasing across a variety of industries, as well as among hobbyists using it for their own projects—but this interest has not yet translated into mass adoption, according to the Q1 2019 3D Printing Trends report, published by 3D Hubs on Wednesday.

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The year 2018 saw a great deal of investment in 3D printing, according to the report, with companies interested in the technology investing in startups, while established firms like BASF acquired startups to bolster their own portfolio.

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Busses and tractors to receive 3D-printed spare parts

(Image courtesy of New Holland.)

One application primed for disruption by 3D printing technology is the production of spare parts. After all, why house a warehouse full of odd components for just the right moment when you or a customer will need one? 

This is especially true for large, unique systems and equipment, where mass production of individual specialty pieces is that much rarer. London and Amsterdam-based CNH Industrial has picked up on this insight and has begun fabricating spare parts for its industrial equipment.

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Additive manufacturing has both potential and challenges

At this year’s International Symposium for Additive Manufacturing, around forty presentations covered the latest research results and industrial developments, as well as the challenges additive manufacturing (also called 3D printing) needs to overcome before it becomes firmly established in industry.  For example, Stefanie Brickwede, the Head of Additive Manufacturing at Deutsche Bahn, presented innovative approaches to additive manufacturing for mobility, especially rail traffic, in her lecture, “We Print to Drive: Mobility goes Additive”. According to Ms. Brickwede, the use of additive processes will result in high savings in the multi-digit million range in warehousing and spare parts procurement.  She underlined that additive manufacturing is of the upmost importance for Deutsche Bahn, especially in the management of spare parts for older trains.

Additive Manufacturing Symposium

“Tackling the materials and processing challenges”. Under this motto, 300 international experts from research and industry met at the 3rd International Symposium Additive Manufacturing in Dresden, Germany. At this year’s event, around forty presentations covered the latest research results and industrial developments, as well as the challenges additive manufacturing needs to overcome before it becomes firmly established in industrial production and for supply chain applications.

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Fast Radius’ CEO Lou Rassey on embracing industrial manufacturing

Now that 3D printing is moving towards industrial-grade production levels, many companies find themselves excited about the possibilities but not sure how to fully make it part of their operating model. This has created a gap where companies are slow to adopt additive manufacturing. Fast Radius is looking to bridge this gap.

Lou Rassey, CEO of Fast Radius

Headquartered in Chicago, Illinois, Fast Radius, an advanced digital manufacturing company, is empowering industries to embrace additive. According to Lou Rassey, CEO of Fast Radius, the company offers “technology-agnostic solutions”, including additive manufacturing, and end-to-end processes for the design and manufacture of industrial-grade products. Customers come from sectors including aerospace, automotive, and medical.

The company is driven by a singular mission to “Make new things possible” for today’s manufacturers – whether that’s unlocking new business opportunities through additive manufacturing or making formerly “unmakeable” products. To achieve its mission, Fast Radius built a proprietary model that combines digital manufacturing with advanced physical technologies. This model led Fast Radius to be recently selected by the World Economic Forum (WEF) and McKinsey & CompanyInitiative on Shaping the Future of Production as a Fourth Industrial Revolution “Lighthouse”.

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Many companies stuck in planning phase of supply chain digitization

Man using tablet with logistics hub in background and graphics overlaid representing supply chain concepts

Even companies with the best-laid plans for supply chain digitization often struggle to achieve their goals, and recent Capgemini research provides some insight into the various factors holding some businesses back. The study, which suggests that many businesses remain stuck in the planning phase of digital transformation, offers several useful takeaways.

Released in December, “The Digital Supply Chain’s Missing Link: Focus”report surveyed more than 1,000 supply chain executives in the consumer products, manufacturing, and retail fields.

Key Survey Takeaways

The opportunity for cost savings was the primary motivator for the executives interviewed, with 77% saying that this impacted their decision in aiming to digitally transform the supply chain. Increasing revenues (56%) and supporting new business models (53%) were also cited.

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