While 2016 might have been a trying year in many ways, one of the major silver linings has been the amazing advancements in technology, perhaps most notably in additive manufacturing. As necessary as it is to look back on the past year, however, it is also important—not to mention exciting—to look forward to 2017, which holds the promise of even more amazing innovations and AM advancements. As is customary at the end of the year, research and advisory firm Gartner has released its predictions for 2017 and, in the field of 3D printing, they look pretty positive.
The overall consensus of the 19-page-long report, called “Gartner’s annual predictions about the future of 3D printing”, is that 3D printing will continue to advance and grow within a wide range of industries over the next years, including in the industrial manufacturing industry, the medical sector, and more.
Key highlights of the report include the projection that by 2020, 10% of industrial operations will integrate robotic 3D printing technologies into their manufacturing, 30% of internal medical implants and devices will be 3D printed (and increasingly printed on location), product introduction timelines will be reduced by 25% because of 3D printing, and a whopping 75% of manufacturing operations across the globe will integrate 3D printed tools, jigs, and fixtures for the production of finished goods.
Logistics giant DHL recently released its report on ‘3D Printing and the Future of Supply Chains’. The trend report offers perspectives on the state of 3D printing and implications for logistics.
The much discussed trend ‘3D Printing’ has already made lives easier due to its immense potential to create instant production and distribution models, essentially enabling companies and consumers alike to print complex objects within the confines of a single printer.
The consultancy firm McKinsey estimates that the 3D printing market will grow to between $180 billion and $490 billion by 2025. Similarly, Gartner, the well-known information technology advisory company, believes that enterprise 3D printing is ready to break out and achieve widespread adoption.
Whizzing across a blue-lit platform with a whirr and a squeak, liquid plastic pours from its chrome tip. The 3D printer seems a far cry from the muddy fields surrounding Yangon.
But in an industrial park south of the city 3D printing technology is now being used to design bespoke parts that are changing the lives of struggling farmers, who often rely on making their own tools or adapting imports in place of agriculture machinery.
But poor equipment is only one challenge amid natural disasters and razor-thin profit-margins for Myanmar’s farmers. Agriculture accounts for nearly half of Myanmar’s economic output, but it is among the smallest export markets in Asia.
But change is afoot at social enterprise Proximity Designs, where 3D printers are being used to design specially adapted farming tools, in consultation with the farmers who will use them.
3-D printing, also known as “additive manufacturing,” has captured increasing mainstream interest, with new breakthroughs and applications being announced all the time. While it is revolutionizing the way certain products are manufactured, 3-D printing is poised to substantively benefit the production of medical devices and the healthcare supply chain overall.
In its 2016 trend report, logistics company DHL says 3-D printing can significantly lower complexity in manufacturing and holds numerous advantages over conventional production techniques.
Specific to healthcare, 3-D printing has been used in a variety of meaningful applications, such as in the production of prosthetic implants and limbs, as well as prosthetic dentistry. As healthcare strives to emphasize the individualization of care, Gartner estimates that by 2019, 3-D printing will be considered a critical tool in healthcare, being used in more than 35 percent of all surgical procedures requiring prosthetic and implant devices within and around the body. By then, Gartner also estimates that 10 percent of people in the developed world will be living with a 3-D-printed item on or in their body.
After a record-breaking year for GB at Rio 2016, it was inspiring to see elite athletes achieve their dreams after years of intense training and pushing themselves beyond their limits. However, what really interests us at Cambridge Design Partnership, is how technology can help to squeeze out every last bit of performance.
With the developments in additive manufacturing (3D printing), it’s exciting to see new technology being implemented in the form of sports apparel that fit the athlete and meet their needs more precisely. Using the latest techniques to accurately scan an object and manipulate the data into a CAD system we are able to produce prototypes using 3D printing technology, which has been particularly evident in the Paralympics. Prosthetics have been optimised and custom racing wheelchairs have been designed based on 3D scans of the athletes enabling enhanced usability that cater for an individual’s exact requirements.
The idea of the sharing economy has gained momentum in recent years, thanks to the success of brands like Uber and Airbnb. Both have generated impressive profits by adopting a collaborative approach to business; collectively, the companies are worth more than $75 billion. But while this mainstream success made the sharing economy a go-to business innovation tool, it can be said that supply chain is the original champion of collaborative working. Supply chain professionals are well-versed in managing an extensive network of partners in which each company works independently to deliver a final product. But the next step in the supply chain sharing economy is within co-managed collaboration, which will see partners share resources and strengths more broadly rather than in a linear fashion.
3D printing has been the stuff of Geeks and Makers Faires for quite a while. However, the application of 3D printing technology at the business level, particularly in manufacturing, is quickly emerging as the place where the real promise lies at least in the near future.
“Factors such as 3D printing evolving from developing prototypes to end-user products, mass customization, production of complex parts, government investments in 3D printing projects, and improvements in manufacturing efficiency are expected to drive the growth of the 3D printing market,” according to a new market research report 3D Printing Market from MarketsandMarkets.
North America is expected to account for the largest share of the market, with a variety of business verticals leveraging the technology to do anything from creating prototypes to manufacturing enduser products.
The aviation trade is facing a dilemma as passenger demand for flights goes through the roof while customers increasingly demand more for less from airlines.
In 2016 alone there are expected to be more than 3.7 billion people boarding flights around the world. As a result, Boeing has predicted that accommodating the huge increase in passengers and cargo will require 38,050 new airplanes in the next 20 years, at the cost of $5.6 trillion.
Canada is on the verge of a manufacturing renaissance as 3D printing technology is spurring a wave of entrepreneurial thinking and innovation amongst manufacturers—large and small—across the country. Canadian manufacturers who haven’t investigated commercial 3D printing solutions should take note.
In the past, 3D printing has been used primarily for producing detailed prototypes. But new systems have come along capable of making superior quality functional parts up to 10 times faster at half the cost of previous generation 3D printers.
There’s a massive, untapped opportunity in the industrial 3D printing market. As the technology gets better, while costs go down, the solutions available are becoming a more attractive option for manufacturers looking to design and produce prototypes and finished goods.