3D printing lies at the bottom of service providers’ Industry 4.0 technology offerings; there are many challenges left unsolved if it’s going to surpass cool use case videos to be the production process of the future. Providers are showing signs of solving these challenges alongside their manufacturing partners, but manufacturing execs shouldn’t go in with guns blazing before guaranteeing rapid innovation in the short-term and concrete value in the long-term. Equally, they can’t be complacent and fail to have the capability and partner network ready-to-go when the technology booms—or they’ll be playing catchup, making expensive purchases, and signing one-sided contracts with vendors.
HFS’ Industry 4.0 Services Top 10 for 2019 asked leading providers to rate the maturity of their offerings across Industry 4.0’s core enabling technologies (see Exhibit 1). Unsurprisingly, predictive analytics and AI applications, big data, and IoT are the most mature segments. IoT provides real-time data flow, on top of which data analysis can derive insight and with that, value. While aspects of robotics and small-batch manufacturing are still emerging, they’ve been around for decades and are moving along the maturity scale; we cannot say the same of 3D printing.
MERCHANT ships are massive — often spanning a few hundred feet — and have thousands of moving parts.
Given the progress made by cross-border trade and commerce post-globalization, and the recent rise of e-commerce, more than 50,000 ships undertake nearly half-a-million voyages every year.
To avoid catastrophes while at sea, merchant ships need to be serviced often. One of the major costs that merchant ship owners have to account for when it comes to maintenance is the inventory cost of spare parts given the number of spares that must be carried at any given time.
The other challenge to effective maintenance is that ships travel from one port to another during its voyage. If something needs to be repaired when it is not at its home, spares must be sent to the port where it is docked.
The 3D printing industry was worth $3bn in 2013 and grew to $7bn in 2017. GlobalData forecasts the 3D printing market to account for more than $20bn in spend by 2025.
As 3D printing develops it is now starting to be realised in a wide variety of industries, but its potential in the aerospace and defence industry is significant and most major militaries and companies are exploring their options with the technology.
Some are still in the testing phase, while others are actually deploying the technology in final production. This is particularly true in the aerospace industry, where engines, aircraft and even satellites are using 3D printed components at present.
Listed below are the militaries that have taken an early lead in implementing 3D printing technology, as identified by GlobalData.
Formlabs, a 3D printing system manufacturer, and Dr Sam Pashneh-Tala, Research Fellow at the University of Sheffield, have developed a 3D printing technique for complex artificial blood vessels which can aid surgery for cardiovascular disease.
Conventional surgical treatments for cardiovascular disease rely on autografts, which require invasive surgery. Synthetic vascular grafts made from polymer materials are also available, but these are prone to infection and blood clotting, especially in smaller diameter vessels. A new technique is needed, and this is where tissue engineering fits in, enabling new blood vessels to be grown in the lab and then used for implantation.
Last year, the Ramdani family in France, became the first in the world to move into a three-dimensionally-printed house.
A team of scientists and architects designed their comfy 95m² home in a studio, with the design programmed into a 3D printer. This was then brought to the site of the home and printed in layers from the floor upwards. After just 54 hours, the Ramdani family had a new four-bedroomed home.
But France isn’t the only country, which has embraced 3D technology to solve its housing issues.
Materials Solutions, a Siemens business, has received accreditation from the National Aerospace and Defense Contractors Accreditation Program (NADCAP) for additive manufacturing in the aerospace sector. A reported first for a UK 3D printing company in this industry Phil Hatherley, General Manager at Materials Solutions, comments, “We knew that in order to deliver the highest quality parts for the aerospace sector we needed to get the NADCAP accreditation to show we were serious about working in the sector.”
It is universally recognized and incorporated by the aerospace industry for risk mitigation activity as it validates compliance with industry standards, best practices, and customer requirements. Both Italian metal 3D printing service provider Beam IT and QC Laboratories, Inc., a non-destructive testing (NDT) services company, have NADCAP approval for aerospace production.
CECIMO, the association representing the interests of machine tool and manufacturing technologies, has released a new statement concerning additive manufacturing’s position in upcoming discussions by the European Commission.
“Before the end of the year,” the association states, “additive manufacturing will be at the centerstage at the European level.”
The Commission is due to publish a new study and guidelines that will rekindle debates surrounding quality standards and the difference between Business to Business (B2B) and Business to Consumer (B2C) relations. In such debates, the association reiterates, “CECIMO will address policymakers to avoid burdening the sector with unnecessary regulation.”
3D printing was pioneered way back in 1986 but has recently begun to enter the public consciousness. Over the past ten years, it has blurred the boundaries between science fiction and fact. It is also known as Additive Manufacturing and is used in the automobile industry, aerospace & defence, retail and in the medical healthcare industry, amongst many others. A major component of this is the 3D printed drugs market. 3D printing helps make what was once expensive and inaccessible much more cost-effective. Can this be more apt and necessary anywhere else than in the field of medicine? 3D printing is already used to print artificial bones, to create surgical materials with 3D scans to replace a damaged or missing bone and even to create hearing aid devices. Skull implants have been made for people with head injuries and even titanium heels to replace bone cancer afflicted patients.
There are several factors which help the 3D printed drugs market to grow. One key advantage is their instantaneous solubility. 3D printed drugs are produced using powder bed inkjet printing. The elements of the drug are added in a layer by layer approach akin to 3D printing for any other device. This makes the drugs easier to swallow and can be very helpful for patients suffering from dysphagia. 3D printing could also augment the arrival of individualised drugs, or the creation of a combination of drugs. They could be customised for each patient, which would help much more than batch-produced drugs since they would be created specifically taking into account that patient’s medical history. The 3D printed drug market could also make children far less resistant to taking their required medication, since they may be able to choose the shape, colour, design and even taste of the tablet! These are anticipated to be the main drivers of the 3D printed drug market.
Everyday products that fill a household seem simple enough to make. However, most require a complex mold process. First, a liquid is poured into a mold cavity. After it dries, the mold is peeled away to reveal the new plastic design.
Items like plastic bottles, soap dispensers and medicine bottles are all made with this process. Most cosmetics also come in plastic containers made with mold releases.
The rise of 3D printing has made it easier than ever to design complex shapes without the need for a mold. The technology is making a significant impact on several industries, including the cosmetics industry.
Global standards developer ASTM International has announced the second round of funding to support the research and development of standards for the additive manufacturing industry.
Comprising an investment of $300,000 and in-kind contributions, the funding will aid ASTM International Additive Manufacturing Center of Excellence (AM CoE)’s objective to address the needs for technical standardization in the growing additive manufacturing industry.
The investment covers nine research projects helping to expedite standards in additive manufacturing. Dr. Mohsen Seifi, ASTM International’s Director of Global Additive Manufacturing Programs, explains that each project contributes towards different standard gaps in design, feedstock, process, post-processing, testing, and qualification. Seifi adds,
“WE ARE THRILLED TO FUND SOME OF THE MOST CRUCIAL AND HIGH-IMPACT RESEARCH PROJECTS IN ADDITIVE MANUFACTURING TO ACCELERATE STANDARDIZATION.”