Over the past two years, 3D printing has come into its own as a viable element of the manufacturing process. Key developments across software, hardware, and materials mean increased reliance on this new technology.
3D printing is also known as additive manufacturing. This budding industry continues to make big strides in 2019. But which of these achievements will see the biggest impacts moving forward?
Let’s explore the top 3D printing trends of this year. We’ll look at how they’re reshaping the manufacturing landscape.
New Levels of Standardization in 3D Printing
When it comes to the future of 3D printing, many exciting developments are on the immediate horizon. One of the most crucial of these is increased standardization. This will enhance the reputation of the 3D printer as a tool.
Ramped up standards for additive manufacturing will help place it on the fast track to mainstream manufacturing. We expect to see these hit the next level as the industry continues to grow and mature as a whole.
The need for standardization shouldn’t prove that surprising. Especially considering how long it took traditional manufacturing to develop its current practices. Additive manufacturing remains in the early phases of this.
What are some of the most promising developments in this area? The European Association representing Machine Tool Industries, or CECIMO, has established a committee.
This committee will review and discuss policies affecting 3D printing in manufacturing. They’ll also make recommendations on additive manufacturing’s future.
The CECIMO has also participated in events such as the ISO Technical Committee on Additive Manufacturing or ISO/TC 261.
The reason behind these moves? Clearly, Europe wants to stay at the forefront of future additive manufacturing strategies.
What does this mean for companies in the industry? They stand to benefit from better laid out frameworks for internal protocol and processes. This impulse towards standardization will increase into the near future.
A Fresh Focus on Polymer 3D Printing
Over the past year and a half, much focus has been placed on metal 3D printing. This had led to many exciting developments. But it has also placed polymer 3D printing on the back burner.
This remains a disappointing outcome. After all, polymer 3D printing stands on the threshold of many great developments. These include high-performance thermoplastics and composites.
Fortunately, there’s a newfound focus on this very promising area of additive manufacturing. A handful of chemical companies have emerged on the scene over the past few years. They include names like:
These companies already benefit from a strong customer base. So, we predict that their forays into the 3D printing world will bear considerable fruit. Coupled with their expertise with polymers, we also predict these advances will come quickly.
What else is on the horizon when it comes to polymer 3D printing? EOS recently announced the development of its new LaserProFusion technology.
What does this mean for the industry? EOS’s technology may represent an alternative for injection molding processes.
3D printing is ramping up its ability to address specific needs when it comes to industrial applications. Companies such as the chemical giants listed above and EOS will remain at the forefront of these developments.
More Efforts to Streamline the Automation of Post-Processing
When it comes to the least refined parts of the additive manufacturing process, nothing compares to post-processing. Currently, the vast majority of this processing requires heavy manual labor and skilled operators.
As a result, it remains the lengthiest part of the process, significantly increasing the time it takes to get a satisfactory finished product. The current situation remains incompatible with serial production.
In other words, post-processing could stand to hamper increased reliance on additive manufacturing. Unless a solid automation solution can be found to handle post-processing.
Fortunately, companies are stepping forward to fill the gap.
In 2018, America Makes awarded $1.6 million to a joint project between the ASTM International Additive Manufacturing Center of Excellence and Arizona State University. Their goal? Better solutions for post-processing.
But the focus on solutions doesn’t stop there.
PostProcess Technologies is also developing innovative ways to streamline these processes. Recently, they partnered with Rösler, a German manufacturer. They’re working to bring new streamlined post-processing methods to Europe.
Software-Enhanced 3D Printing Will Grow
The trends above all represent crucial components to enhanced additive manufacturing. But software will also play an essential role in the process.
From design to simulation, workflow management to security, software will prove a driving force in new 3D printing developments.
For example, AMFG has partnered with LEO Lane to increase their digitization of key areas of manual operation. At the same time, they continue to explore how to do so within the construct of a safe, secure workflow model.
Simulation software will also continue to make impressive advancements. By simulating the properties of a part and the printing process, software will provide better solutions for reducing material waste.
This software will also optimize machine uptime and ramp up the reliability of additive manufacturing.
This represents an exciting area of 3D printing. As the parts of a 3D printer get more refined, the ability to scale operations will increase. Crucial to this will be ensuring quality control and repeatability through the automation of tasks.
3D Printing Trends to Watch Out For
When it comes to 3D printing trends, additive manufacturing continues to achieve new, exciting heights. From software-enhanced 3D printing to streamlined post-processing steps, the industry will continue to improve and expand.
But you don’t have to wait for global corporations to fully exploit this new technology before you get in on the action. Why not search “3D printers for sale” or “3D printer sale” now to get your hands on this technology?
Yes, changes will continue to refine and streamline how 3D printers perform, but you can still give it a try. And who knows? Maybe you’ll end up contributing to some of the development areas where additive manufacturing still needs help.
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