These 3 trends inspire additive manufacturing
Much has happened in 3D printing in recent years: printers have not only become faster but also more precise, and as a result, even highly complex geometries can be produced with ease. New processes and materials open up unprecedented possibilities. Trends such as sustainability, innovative industrial applications and digitization are driving this future technology to further heights and pave the way for new business models.
Thanks to rapid technological advances, 3D printing is an important key technology for the hardware industry with great potential for production, spare parts and special tooling. Especially in economically uncertain times, the additive process provides new opportunities — not least because the purchase of the equipment requires significantly lower investment than for conventional manufacturing. Small series and special designs can be produced in exactly the required quantity at the desired location. Overproduction is avoided in this way, as is cost-intensive warehousing or expensive transport.
Trend 1: Sustainable production
Climate change will not wait. That is why many politicians and entrepreneurs are calling for the economy to become more sustainable, efficient and resource-saving after the Corona crisis. Additive manufacturing can make an important contribution to this: by using fewer and more environmentally friendly materials, avoiding waste, using less energy than conventional processes and emitting less CO2. In addition, 3D printing promotes the production of lightweight components in the automotive and aerospace industries, thus indirectly contributing to a better energy balance of cars and aircraft.
Trend 2: Innovative industrial applications
In the automotive industry, the trend towards e-mobility requires new materials and designs. It is here where 3D printing can show its strengths by being used for rapid prototyping. Moreover, parts that are printed layer by layer are increasingly replacing cast elements. Soon, even the vision of a 3D printed e-car could become reality. Further potential applications with excellent prospects arise wherever mass customization is required: in customer-specific spare parts and special tools, in medical technology — for example dentures, prostheses, and glasses — and in consumer goods such as shoes, toys, and even confectionery.
Trend 3: Digitization of production and logistics
The combination of additive processes and digitization opens up even more future options. Intelligent interfaces and advanced solutions for data management help improve quality and keep processes flowing smoothly.
In addition, 3D printers are able to imprint digital information on surfaces, which can then be retrieved by smart sensors and integrated into intelligently networked production processes. In this way, the root and origin of a component can be traced in detail, in turn increasing efficiency in the supply chain and in spare parts management.
How do you feel about it?
What experiences have you had with 3D printing? Where do you see the key drivers for the future of additive manufacturing? What do you think are the most interesting application scenarios? Share your insights — and experience the world of 3D printing at the INTERNATIONAL HARDWARE FAIR in Cologne from February 21 to 24, 2021.