What to Expect from Additive Manufacturing in 2020

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Two common themes stuck out to me from the expert predictions in the article “80 Additive Manufacturing Experts Predict the 3D printing trends to watch for in 2020”. First, Additive Manufacturing (AM) companies who started years ago, or individuals who are in it today, are in the right place at the right time. 2020 is predicted to be a phenomenal year for AM and will set the tone for the next decade. Second, materials seem to be all anyone can talk about. The machines are proven, and materials seem to be the next step in advancements.

Here are a few of the quotes from the article, I’ve highlighted my favorite statements. One thing I found particularly interesting was Naresh Shanker, Chief Technology Officer at Xerox, mentioning of a closed loop. With the market being over saturated with 3D printer machines, materials, and now 3D scanners, customer are going to be looking for a “closed loop” system to improve quality and reliability.

The industry is at a critical inflection point — we’ve built these amazing 3D printers that are capable of reliably manufacturing high-volume, end-use parts. To fully realize these capabilities, we need to innovate for adjacent processes while embracing data-driven approaches to ensure consistent, reliable output. For broad adoption of 3D printing on the factory floor, two things need to happen. First, there will be an increased focus on advancing the infrastructure required to support 3D printing — and by infrastructure, I mean everything beyond the printer that makes additive manufacturing happen: additive design, manufacturing workflow, and new or improved materials.

Second, we’ll see the adoption of “closed-loop” systems, 3D printers with new, sensor-based technologies to ensure repeatability and quality — empowering OEMs to yield parts with certifiable material and dimensional properties.

Naresh Shanker, Chief Technology Officer at  Xerox

With additional material options comes new applications and use cases. Nora Toure, Founder of Woman in 3D Printing, sees a shift towards production and adoption in more industries with material options available in 2020. Industries such as oil and gas, mining and constructions amongst many more will start to see the benefits of AM.

From my experience with Ivaldi Group, I expect to see a dramatic increase in industrial case studies with new materials. Especially with the cost of metal 3D printing dropping, this will enable industrial adoption in the new year. I expect that in this coming year, there will be more user-cases and proof of concepts, and we will see a shift more towards actual production, including traditional and heavy industries such as oil and gas, mining, and construction. However, I think there will still be a small number of companies ready to implement additive manufacturing into their supply chain commercially in 2020.

There were various interesting acquisitions this year. I think we will see more of these in 2020 as leaders will emerge and shape the industry.

As the founder of Women in 3D Printing, I was very pleased to see 2019 bringing 2 female CEOs into the industry –  EOS’ CEO Marie Langer and Carbon’s CEO Ellen Kullman. We still do not have enough female leaders as for today though, but I am hopeful we’ll see more of them emerge and take on more responsibilities in the coming year.

Nora Toure, Founder of  Women in 3D Printing

2020 will be the Year of AM Materials. The AM industry will see a wide variety of new material products released. Those that are most successful will be those for which there are specific end use product applications of high value and large market. But even materials that present a solution to an (as yet) unknown problem could have a huge impact on our world once the creative minds of AM users are stimulated by the possibilities.

Karen Linder, CEO at Tethon 3D

I think we’ll see the adoption rate of 3D printing keep accelerating. Increasingly, more small to medium-sized businesses are making the most of the prototyping speed and geometric complexities 3D printing provides, as the technology becomes ever more accessible. Alongside this growing demand for 3D printed parts, virtually unlimited 3D printing capacity is available via online services, like 3D Hubs, as well as other manufacturing platforms. This provides SMBs with access to competitive supply, increasing product development speed, shortening their time-to-market.

Filemon Schöffer, CCO at 3D Hubs

One thing is certain – 2020 will be a game changing year. If you would like to learn more about Markforged or need help understanding how AM might impact your business, contact our experts!

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