Most engineering professionals know 3D printing technology isn’t new — it’s actually been around for several decades. As the technology has evolved, more industrial users are applying it to address product complexity, time and budget constraints, as well as prototyping. Industries leading the way for industrial applications include aerospace, medical, automotive and dental.
According to research firm Gartner, in its 2014 report titled “3D Printer Market Survey Reveals Enterprise Demand Drivers for Technology, Printer and Vendor Decision Making,” early adopters of the technology were able to easily identify cost savings. “Respondents felt overwhelmingly that using a 3D printer as part of their supply chain generally reduces the cost of existing processes, especially research and product development costs,” said Pete Basilier, research director at Gartner. “The mean cost reduction for finished goods is between 4.1% and 4.3%, which is an impressive figure. It shows that early adopters of the technology are finding clear benefits, which are likely to drive further adoption.”
The market doesn’t show any sign of slowing down. Wohler’s Report 2016 stated the industry grew to $5.165 billion with a CAGR of 25.9%, and the number of industrial-grade AM system vendors rose from 49 to 62.
An overview of how 3D printing materials and technologies combine for different outcomes and applications.
Illustration courtesy of Additively.com.
Technology key: BJ (Binder Jetting), EBM (Electron Beam Melting), FDM (Fused Deposition Modeling), HP (Hybrid Processes), LM (Laser Melting), LS (Laser Sintering), MJ (Material Jetting), PJ (Photopolymer Jetting), SL (Stereolithography)