27 Feb 3D printing | What is the current state and how is it expected in the coming years?
The industry wonders what is the current state of 3D printing technology and how far this technology can evolve. In this article, we will guide you through the state of the art.
The current state of 3D printing
For years, there have been multiple studies about this innovative technology that offers, in some cases, many advantages over traditional production systems.
After several years of research and development along the 3D printing value chain, from the IAM 3D HUB, we have realized that now is the for the industry to adopt additive manufacturing as a new tool for design, development, and production. We understand, however, that it is not an easy task, so we want to be a one-stop-shop to help, advise and guide companies no matter the status of additive manufacturing adoption where they are.
We speak about a transversal technology, that has been already applied in multiple sectors such as engineering, medicine, design or fashion, automotive and aerospace, food, electronics or in the production of consumer goods, among others. Below, we will introduce some applications of 3D printing technology in different sectors:
- Versatility: A 3D printer is capable of manufacturing hundreds of different models in one unique production.
- Immediacy: It can be printed in a few hours.
- Flexibility: Due to 3D printing you can make a prototype quickly and check if our idea works. This allows us to have a very flexible creation and manufacturing process.
- Personalization: The 3D design not only allows you to create new products but it also allows you to customize existing models and adapt them to consumer or brand needs.
- Newmarket: The applications of 3D printing have opened a new labour market. Thanks to him, new companies and jobs have been created.
- 3D Scanner: It allows us to replicate an object by scanning and subsequent printing.
- Assembly of different pieces in a single print which allows you to save production time and reduce material and weight.
Although it is already possible to visit 3D printed houses and whether it suggests that it will be the technique used in the conquest of other planets. Nowadays 3D printing is mainly used in the production of architectural models, taking into account the saving of time and costs offered for the production of custom designs, putting forward geometries that would be difficult to assemble by hand (very thin walls, internal cavities, covered with curves and angles…).
3D printing in the medical sector that is still in the initial phase. However, it is one of the sectors that already accumulates more applications, especially in the field of custom prostheses, as customized prostheses for arms or legs; or just for testing. For instance, a group of researchers in China and the United States have printed 3D models of cancerous tumors to discover new cancer drugs and to better understand how tumors develop, grow and spread.
Fashion and art sector
3D printing has been used to create customized and original clothing. What is more, researchers are working in 3D printed makeup, sneakers, and shoes, custom jewelry and accessories such as handbags.
For example, in MET galas, five models boasted large 3D printed pieces, created by the designer Zac Posen. The advantages of 3D printing in this sector are: customization, versatility, the complexity of forms and the use of new materials in fashion.
The future of 3D printing
3D printing has multiple advantages; in addition to the unstoppable development of the technology, materials and post-processing techniques that are being carried out; surely today an almost all of the companies are still to be discovered.
Among there are many possible applications, it is estimated that, in the next five years, 85% of the suppliers of spare parts will have incorporated additive manufacturing into their business as a complementary manufacturing method, and reducing unused spare parts from their storage.
- NASA wants astronauts to print food in space.
- A team of researchers from Australia’s Victorian Organic Solar Cell Consortium (VICOSC) has printed photovoltaic cells in 3D format.
- In Japan, they print faces for dolls, and this suggests that, in the future, faces could be printed using skin generated from stem cells, for those who have suffered accidents or skin cancer.
- The European Space Agency wants to build a lunar station using 3D printing, without the need to move materials from Earth. Lunar rocks would be used as raw material.
- Finally, they have begun to see fashion shows where they have paraded with 3D printed suits.
3D printing has expanded possibilities as design, development and production method so far and can be a competitive advantage for multiple companies in different sectors.
From IAM 3D HUB we want to offer you all our services to help you move forward and innovate as a company. We want to be a one-stop-shop for you in your journey to adopt 3D printing or additive manufacturing technologies in your company in the most optimal way possible.