The growth of 3D printing’s prominence in manufacturing is changing the dynamics of manufacturing, of that there can be no doubt. It therefore is becoming clearer that governments need to either get on board and incentivise this development in their own countries or risk being left behind, losing share in global manufacture. South Korea is recognising this with a focused programme, and the UK is on the cusp of publishing its strategy for 3d printing technologies. Any such strategy, though, needs to be backed up with fiscal assistence and the skillbase developed in schools, colleges and universities – two things that remain the gift of government.
“The 3D printing industry is the core technology that will bring about innovation in the manufacturing realm and create a new market by changing the paradigm of the industry.”
South Korea has revealed it will invest around $37 million in 2017 to accelerate the development of 3D printing across the country.
The nation’s Ministry of Science, ICT and Future Planning will spend much of the budget on various 3D printing businesses to strengthen South Korea’s competitiveness and ability to meet demand.
On the ministry’s agenda are sectors ranging from the military to medical industries. Aiming to assist the military and industries to produce components through 3D printing, the ministry will also encourage the production of artificial bones and rehabilitation devices using the technology.
The UK’s innovation agency are running a competition that will award £4.5 million ($5.82m) to, “projects that stimulate innovation in additive manufacturing, also known as 3D printing.” I spoke with the lead technologist for high value manufacturing at Innovate UK, Robin Wilson, to learn more. In this interview he explains how to access funding for 3D printing projects, what sectors should expect to see the biggest revenue in the next years, where there are opportunities for businesses and where are the 3D printing job opportunities for individuals.
“We think AM could be worth £1 billion ($1.29b) per year incremental business for the UK by 2020,” he tells me. Wilson is well suited to this role having worked with additive manufacturing for more than 20 years and is no stranger to innovation. During his time at automotive maker Land-Rover he worked on, “a fore-runner of Industry 4.0.” He explains, “we CAD modeled the whole car and how it would be put together in real time to not only get the product design right but the manufacturing environment could also be developed in parallel.” This was more than 2 decades before the current interest around intelligent factories.
Industry demands such as lightweighting are requiring suppliers to take an active role in developing new products with new materials at a faster pace. Robust 3D printing services are helping to meet this demand.
As automation software and connected machinery continue to undergo technological advances, manufacturing suppliers find themselves in the advantageous position to help companies from nearly every major industry develop products faster and more cost-effectively than ever before, thereby enabling innovation and rapid commercialization.
To fully leverage this modern-day manufacturing automation, it is important for manufacturing suppliers to recognize the current trends and challenges that product designers and engineers from different industries are facing — automakers are tackling stiff fuel economy regulations, an aging population is demanding user-centric devices, aircraft developers are working diligently to replace obsolete consumer technology on planes as well as to lighten the load to meet fuel-efficiency targets.
The best manufacturing suppliers recognize and adapt to these important industry trends by offering manufacturing services that help meet industry expectations and regulatory mandates.