Article | January 21, 2022
3D printing technology and its role in future manufacturing are grabbing the interest of industry experts. In terms of elevating future products, future additive manufacturing has a lot to offer the business. Additive manufacturing is developing and stretching its wings on a daily basis, becoming an integral part of every industry, including manufacturing, healthcare, education, and more.
In this article, we'll shed some light on the 3D printing future trends, which will assist the business in deepening its impact across industries. Furthermore, we will explore whether the additive manufacturing business is worth investing in as well as who the major players are that have already invested in the future of 3D printing.
Future Trends in the Additive Manufacturing Industry
Enhanced Machine Connectivity
Making AM solutions (including software and hardware) easier to integrate and connect to the factory floor is one of the key AM trends we predict to advance in the coming years. It has been a long time since the AM hardware market has been filled with closed, or proprietary, systems. These systems generally function with materials and software given or approved by the machine OEM and are not easily integrated with third-party alternatives.
Closed systems are important for process dependability, but they also restrict collaboration and connectivity. Companies expanding their AM operations will need to connect their machines and software to their production environments. When it comes to additive manufacturing, using siloed solutions is a surefire way to fail. Importantly, we see hardware manufacturers increasingly focusing on solutions that can be integrated with the production floor.
For example, a 3D printing market leader like Stratasys is a good illustration of the trend. In December, the business announced an extension of its previously closed machines' connection.Consumers may now integrate and control their additive production using software programs of their choosing, not just Stratasys' systems. For AM facilities, system connectivity is no longer an option. It's exciting to see the AM industry players recognize and solve this requirement.
AM and AI Continue to Converge
AM growth is incorporating AI and machine learning. AI can help with material development, machine setup, part design, and workflow automation. So, in the future, we anticipate seeing more AI and AM technology integration.
Combined with AM systems, AI will improve process control and accuracy. For example, Inkbit is currently working on an AI-powered polymer vision system. This technology can scan 3D printing layers and anticipate material behavior during printing.
Generative design, already generally recognized as a key digital advance in AM, may tremendously benefit from AI and machine learning.
It has so far been utilized to improve load routes when strength and stiffness are dominant. It can also be utilized to optimize thermal or vibration. AI and machine learning will advance generative design, allowing new concepts to be completely suited to AM.While we may be a few years away from fully developing the capacity to automatically adapt designs to process, we anticipate significant breakthroughs this year that will bring us closer.
AM Will Drive Decentralization
In order to future-proof their supply chains, many manufacturers are following new supply chain models and technology that allow them to cut prices or switch goods more easily. Increasing flexibility and agility will necessitate distributed, localized production, assisted by additive manufacturing.To reduce the number of steps required to manufacture complex metal or polymer structures, shorten lead times, and enable digital inventory management, digital inventory management can be automated. These advantages make it ideal for the distributed manufacturing model. We believe that in the near future, more businesses will actively explore distributed manufacturing with AM.
According to a recent HP survey, 59% of organizations are now considering hybrid models, while 52% are looking into localized digital manufacturing.
3D Printing Future: Major Predictions
In Jabil's 2021 3D printing trends survey of over 300 decision-makers, 62% of participants claim their organization is actively using additive manufacturing for production of their product components, up from 27% in 2017. Many such manufacturers are on the lookout for the latest additive manufacturing trends and forecasts. So let's begin.
Increasing Flexibility and Customization
Customized goods are a popular consumer trend, impacting several sectors. Rather than buying a mass-produced item, customers are increasingly demanding a custom-made item that meets their specific needs.
Additive manufacturing's low-volume production capabilities simply enable personalization and customization.
3D printing allows for more responsive design options, particularly for additive manufacturing. Manufacturers can afford to make smaller batches, allowing designers and engineers to alter product ideas and develop them cost-effectively when inspiration strikes, the public mood is understood, or customer feedback drops in.
Materials Drive the Future of Digital
As the additive manufacturing ecosystem grows, the importance of materials cannot be overstated. Besides high equipment costs, materials and limited additive manufacturing ecosystems have hindered the 3D printing industry's growth. The market is flooded with 3D printing materials, but few are advanced enough to fulfill industry standards.Due to volume constraints in most sectors, suppliers and manufacturers aren't motivated to develop innovative materials for new uses. However, the future of 3D printing is in engineered and application-specific materials.
Various sectors have unique difficulties that demand unique solutions. New designed materials will revolutionize new uses, including highly regulated sectors. Industries will reward those who can promptly introduce 3D printing materials adapted to specific industrial and engineering needs. This will allow more 3D printing applications to be supplied and the whole digital manufacturing flywheel to start spinning.
3D Printing and a Sustainable Future
Finally, additive manufacturing promotes sustainability and conservation. Besides decreasing trash, 3D printing saves energy. The Metal Powder Industries Federation studied the difference between making truck gear using subtractive manufacturing (17 steps) and additive manufacturing (6 steps).
3D printing uses less than half the energy it takes to produce the same product. 3D printing also reduces the need for moving products and materials, reducing the amount of carbon emitted into the environment. So we can see that digital and additive solutions already contribute to a more sustainable future.
Is Investment in the Future of Additive Manufacturing Worth It?
In recent years, there has been an explosion of investment in industrial 3D printing. Hundreds of millions of dollars have flowed into the industry in recent years, assisting new businesses. Desktop Metal ($160 million), Markforged ($82 million), and 3D Hubs ($18 million) have all received significant funding in the past. According to a recent report and data analysis, the global additive manufacturing market will hit USD 26.68 billion by 2027. A rising level of government support for additive manufacturing across regions is driving market demand.
For example, America Makes, the foremost national initiative in the US since 2012 dedicated to additive manufacturing (3D printing future technology), received USD 90 million in support from the government, commercial, and non-profit sectors. Given the industry's expenditures and the expanding need for 3D printing, investing in the additive manufacturing industry or 3D printing is certainly encouraged.
Additive manufacturing is being used in practically every industry, and companies are researching how technology might be used in their specific fields. The numerous advantages and sustainability that 3D printing provides are the major benefits that manufacturers and other industry professionals notice with 3D printing.Future manufacturing will be significantly more accurate and simple to run thanks to 3D printing technologies. Considering the trends and projections listed above, you may have a better understanding of 3D printing's future and make an informed investment decision.
What is the future of 3D printing?
3D printing, or additive manufacturing, has the potential to empower everything from food to coral reefs. 3D printers may soon be seen in homes, companies, disaster zones, and perhaps even outer space.
Why is 3D printing important to society?
3D printing results in waste reduction and so eliminates the need for periodic waste reduction, reuse, and recycling. So it helps society with no carbon footprint.
Why is it known as additive manufacturing?
The term "additive manufacturing" refers to the fact that the building process adds layers rather than removes raw materials.
Article | June 28, 2021
Manufacturing journalist Thomas R. Cutler visited the remarkable and magnificent country of Uganda.
Foreign investment is coming into the country and that is a good thing; it is not however, enough. To tap into this workforce corporate citizenship and contribution is essential. Just as I underestimated the stamina needed to climb the mountain to experience the gorillas, the role of transforming Uganda requires a careful, well-thought approach.
Article | December 2, 2021
The world of manufacturing is continuously evolving in the 21st century, and companies have to combat competition, altering consumer demands, and unexpected events to be able to deliver in today’s experience. Global connectivity, innovation, and disruption are all reshaping the manufacturing industry, but a world-class business platform can help companies transform operations digitally to keep up with an evermore digitized world. The factory of the future will allow manufacturers to enhance production through the convergence of information technology with factory operations, combining the effectiveness of the virtual world with the materiality of the physical world to lower costs, increase flexibility, and better meet customer expectations.
The factory of the future functions on four dimensions: resource planning, manufacturing planning, planning and optimization, and manufacturing operations. Resource planning involves defining and simpulating the plant layout, flow, assets, and resources needed to efficiently develop products in a safe environment. Normal production change requests can be quickly validated by using 3D virtual experience twin technology. This technology could also quickly pivot operations to alternative products in the case of disruptive events. Manufacturing planning enriches the resource and product definition by defining and validating a process plan and creating work instructions that meet production goals.
Digital visualization of resource and process changes can also help speed up time-to-production in any scenario no matter the location by leveraging the cloud. Planning and optimization of supply chains across planning horizons will help manufacturers gain visibility with planning and scheduling by having the ability to model, simulate, and optimize alternative supply and production plans to reduce disruptions. Lastly, manufacturing operations management can transform global production operations to attain and maintain operational excellence. Manufacturers can create, manage, and govern operational processes on a global scale while maintaining operational integrity to meet altering demands.
For the factory of the future to come about successfully, there needs to be connected technology and shared data. Technology has to be adaptable with robotics and equipment that can be reconstructed to house changes and new products. An AI-powered product demand simulation is necessary to maintain agility and boost productivity. A versatile, cross-functional workforce with the ability to explicate data and function well in AR environments is also required along with smart factory technology such as wearable sensors and virtual prototypes. Through all this, the factory of the future can connect technologies across the product life cycle while optimizing the workforce and increasing sustainability.
Although achieving the factory of the future has several benefits, creating a feasible factory of the future plan can be challenging. In 2018, only 12% of companies had a mature factory of the future plan. One of the main challenges that companies face is a lack of internal skills to devise digital solutions. However, this can be combated by carefully considering how you can utilize digital technologies to deliver improved performance, resiliency, and flexibility. It is easier to begin with small steps and to collaborate with a partner who could support your efforts to build toward your desired transformation goal. It is important to always be prepared by evaluating your next steps, industry trends, and progress metrics. It is also crucial to focus on the people, process, and technology you’re using to have a successful transformation journey.
Manufacturing with the factory of the future can provide savings in a wide range of categories. For example, it can reduce virtual vehicles build time by 80%, increase on-time performance of industrial equipment by 45%, and reduce modular construction time of construction, cities, and territories by 70%. Leading the transformation of the manufacturing space towards the direction of the factory of the future will allow manufacturers to work smart and better meet the needs of the end consumers.
Article | March 31, 2021
Everyday the supply chain is jeopardized. A freighter stuck in the Suez Canal has severe ripple effects in raw material goods making their way around the world. Trade tariffs and unpredictable consequences from COVID have encouraged many US manufacturers to reshore bringing jobs stateside. This strategy will shift the supply chain challenge to a staffing challenge.
As the manufacturing industry is poised for rapid growth over the next 24 months, hiring the best workers once again becomes the top challenge. As the workforce is vaccinated and reshoring the supply chain becomes a clarion call for industry, finding the right people with the right skills forces plant managers, operations managers, and HR managers to find new and innovative recruiting strategies. FactoryFix is an online platform that matches vetted manufacturing workers with companies seeking specific skill sets. This platform sets a new standard in how small to mid-sized manufacturers hire talent across the U.S.