Report: 3D Printing Will (Eventually) Transform Manufacturing
Although consumer applications have gotten a lot of attention, these will remain a small portion of the 3D printed parts market. By 2025, prototypes and production parts for automotive, medical, and aerospace segments combined will represent 84 percent of the entire market. (Source: Lux Research)
Yes, JimT, After tripling my money by investing in Stratasys, 3D Systems, and ExOne I decided to take my profit. The expectations of growth built into the stock prices is too high. But as Yogi Berra said, "It's hard to make predictions, especially about the future." I keep an eye on game changing ideas. Is there anything in 3D printing applications that will change the need to produce stuff at all? Emphasize the word applications. We don't have to own stuff as long as we have access to it. That's true of the printers as well as other things. Consider Zipcar, for example, or websites that permit people to rent out their bedroom or their ladder or whatever. Maybe mass production is unnecessary if people share and rent stuff more.
The editor of Wired has said 3D printing will be bigger than the Internet. If Lux's numbers are right, there will be a thousand-fold increase in the market for 3D's use in small-volume manufacturing in the next 12 years ($1 million to $1.1 billion). I don't know any field of technology that can match those numbers.
The number is amazing, isn't it Pubudu? If a market doubles in 12 years, that's said to be a fast-growing market. Here, it's growing a thousand-fold. Of course, this is a brand new market, rather than a mature market. But even so, a thousand-fold is an extraordinary growth figure.
"market for 3D's use in small-volume manufacturing in the next 12 years ($1 million to $1.1 billion). I don't know any field of technology that can match those numbers."
I have a feeling that the problem with this statement, is that $1m undervalues the current market size by probably a factor of 10-30. There is about $1m/yr and growing in just the RepRap (and similar FDM machines) market. When all 3D printer markets are combined, it has to be significantly higher, or it would not be supporting as many salaries as it does today.
Pubudu, You are absolutely correct that 3D printing is changing the design industry. Although, I do agree with article that small scale manufacturing using 3D printing for prototypes is more practical than on a larger scale. Traditional manufacturing techniques are and will be the norm for handling large volume production runs because of the massive throughput required.
Here's some interesting research being conducted at MIT's Self-Assembly Lab where 4D printing is being realized. According to the Principal Scientist/Founder of the Self-Assembly Lab, Skylar Tibbits, he defines 4D as time. His definition of Self Assembly is " a process by which disordered parts build an ordered structure through only local interaction." I've included links to his TED talk link and the Self Assembly Lab for additional information. His vision is to eliminate the complexities of construction and manufacturing using programmable materials that create new structures using passive energy. Very interesting stuff!!!
Yes, Ann, the consumer space is always a bit sexier than the B2B or OEM space, even if it doesn't have as much impact on a market. Eventually it will probably catch up, but in many cases with a new technology (depending on what it is, of course) the consumer market is really the last to catch on to a trend.
Cabe, prototypes made with 3D printing have definitely transformed the early stages of manufacturing and design. The next transformation will be in low-volume production parts. I really wonder how hard it will be--or how long it will take--to get increases in both resolution and throughput, especially now there are so many R&D projects going full blast to improve processes and throughput that we might all be wrong about that, too. Stay tuned for some new partnership announcements furthering that R&D.
78RPM, you're right about NASA considering 3D printing for astronauts. NASA is also using it to make rocket engine PARTS, not prototypes. And thanks for the point about the MRO (maintenance, repair and overhaul) uses--the military is also considering 3D printing for MRO in the field, as several aircraft manufacturers already do.
As the 3D printing and overall additive manufacturing ecosystem grows, standards and guidelines from standards bodies and government organizations are increasing. Multiple players with multiple needs are also driving the role of 3DP and AM as enabling technologies for distributed manufacturing.
A growing though not-so-obvious role for 3D printing, 4D printing, and overall additive manufacturing is their use in fabricating new materials and enabling new or improved manufacturing and assembly processes. Individual engineers, OEMs, university labs, and others are reinventing the technology to suit their own needs.
For vehicles to meet the 2025 Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) standards, three things must happen: customers must look beyond the data sheet and engage materials supplier earlier, and new integrated multi-materials are needed to make step-change improvements.
3D printing, 4D printing, and various types of additive manufacturing (AM) will get even bigger in 2015. We're not talking about consumer use, which gets most of the attention, but processes and technologies that will affect how design engineers design products and how manufacturing engineers make them. For now, the biggest industries are still aerospace and medical, while automotive and architecture continue to grow.
More and more -- that's what we'll see from plastics and composites in 2015, more types of plastics and more ways they can be used. Two of the fastest-growing uses will be automotive parts, plus medical implants and devices. New types of plastics will include biodegradable materials, plastics that can be easily recycled, and some that do both.
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