The lack of improvement in throughput places even more pressure on manufacturers to reduce the cost of materials, which are highly specific to each machine. "Materials are being sold at very high margins right now," said Vicari, "so there's a market for independent material suppliers."
Many different types of materials are involved in each printer's materials set; for instance, various additives for polymers to control melting temperature and flexibility. For metals, this is less true, but they still require custom development.
Even so, printer companies are only offering a few materials with their machines, compared to what's potentially available. By 2025, there will probably be a more open market with third-party materials suppliers selling many more materials choices. Meanwhile, some 3D printer companies, especially smaller and newer ones, are partnering with materials companies.
Users of printers often don't have access to controls, like modifying the chamber temperature for a given material. But once these machines move into production, not prototyping, where every large company has their own process engineers, these customers will want to have more control over the process and the materials, said Vicari.
Business relationships and business models will also change. For example, last November, Morris Technologies, a service bureau that worked primarily with aerospace engine components, was acquired by GE Aviation, which makes aircraft, military, and marine engines.
This makes me wonder whether more aerospace companies might adopt 3D printing and other AM techniques by outright acquisition, instead of investment or monetary support of various kinds, such as Lockheed's partnership with Sciaky. I also wonder whether machines and materials sets will become more customized for first, specific markets, and second, for individual, very large OEMs.
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.
A recent report sponsored by the American Chemistry Council (ACC) focuses on emerging gasification technologies for converting waste into energy and fuel on a large scale and saving it from the landfill. Some of that waste includes non-recycled plastic.
Capping a 30-year quest, GE Aviation has broken ground on the first high-volume factory for producing commercial jet engine components from ceramic matrix composites. The plant will produce high-pressure turbine shrouds for the LEAP Turbofan engine.
Seismic shifts in 3D printing materials include an optimization method that reduces the material needed to print an object by 85 percent, research designed to create new, stronger materials, and a new ASTM standard for their mechanical properties.
A recent study finds that 3D printing is both cheaper and greener than traditional factory-based mass manufacturing and distribution. At least, it's true for making consumer plastic products on open-source, low-cost RepRap printers.
For industrial control applications, or even a simple assembly line, that machine can go almost 24/7 without a break. But what happens when the task is a little more complex? That’s where the “smart” machine would come in. The smart machine is one that has some simple (or complex in some cases) processing capability to be able to adapt to changing conditions. Such machines are suited for a host of applications, including automotive, aerospace, defense, medical, computers and electronics, telecommunications, consumer goods, and so on. This discussion will examine what’s possible with smart machines, and what tradeoffs need to be made to implement such a solution.