What is the future of 3D printing? 2022 marks the end of the first decade of the 3D printing industry, and we look forward to the second decade.
Opportunities and challenges faced by 3D printing in the next 10 years
Like any cutting-edge technology, 3D printing was once questioned by the “foam”, but now this technology has proved its value with action. What are the future opportunities and challenges for 3D printing? Let’s take a look together. https://www.slw-ele.com/
Development trend:
1. Moving towards large-scale production
In the next decade, 3D printing will not only be used for customized products or high-value-added products, but will cover the entire product life cycle from conceptual model to mass production and after-sales spare parts. In particular, the realization of mass production of final parts will help 3D printing establish its position in manufacturing technology in the next 10 years.
If 3D printing can significantly help support and strengthen the supply chain at present, its share in the total manufacturing volume will become increasingly large, and it will become the main large-scale manufacturing technology in the future manufacturing industry. 3D printing will be widely used in aerospace, industrial equipment, transportation, consumer electronics, medical and other fields, and various potential applications will become current practical applications.
2. Iterative update
Accelerate 3D printing research and development to better meet actual production needs. Among them, machines will be more diversified to achieve free form manufacturing; At the same time, it can print with minimal or even no human involvement. The combination of materials will expand, and new 3D printing alloys, polymers, and hybrid materials/metamaterials will continue to emerge.
3. Accelerating the pace towards digitization
In addition to advances in equipment and materials, 3D printing relies on improved software to truly achieve digital production. At the same time, combined with artificial intelligence, machine learning will achieve autonomous manufacturing, improve the entire 3D printing process, become more intelligent, and improve productivity.
4. Capital will change the pattern
Looking forward to the next decade, the 3D printing industry will usher in a period of integration, and the pattern will definitely change completely. A large amount of capital flows into the industry, and a series of mergers and acquisitions will occur, which will trigger a wave of acquisitions, investment and IPO. At the same time, some “traditional” manufacturing companies will “backdoor” into the field of 3D printing and play a role. There will be many cases similar to Nikon’s acquisition of SLM Solutions.
In the next decade, capital may also shift from technology betting to paying high attention to the application side rooted in the real production scenario.
5. Sustainable distributed manufacturing
3D printing will play a key role in reversing global warming by reducing carbon footprint, reducing energy consumption, reducing waste and transiting to plant-based materials through lightweight and localization, and truly help to achieve sustainability and circular economy. In addition, 3D printing will form a new supply chain solution through localization and distributed manufacturing. In the future, more industries will turn to digital warehousing and on-demand production of spare parts through 3D printing.
The future of 3D printing is to move towards mass production, which needs to solve three key problems: “price”, “speed” and “quality”.
A big challenge is the cost. The challenge is to reduce the cost of each part of the entire value chain while maintaining the quality commitment. If the cost cannot be reduced, there will be no competitive advantage and no real sustainable large-scale production.
3D printing materials are the important basis for the development of 3D printing technology, and the breakthrough of materials is the primary task. Not only the one-way cost control of materials, but also the effective recovery is also important to reduce the cost of production scale printing.
Mass production needs to be efficient, that is, it needs to overcome the limitation of 3D printing speed. This may be the biggest dilemma that major manufacturers have to solve. It is not only necessary to solve the running speed of the equipment itself, but also to think about how to realize automation and reliable production. It can also be understood that production needs process automation.
Here, we need to effectively connect 3D printing hardware and software, control the different stages of 3D printing in an intelligent way through software, start operation and monitor printing through artificial intelligence, and then automatically filter and clean the system to obtain the final parts. Digitize and automate the production process of 3D printing, which is an effective way to solve the current slow speed.
There is still a lack of standardization of production processes in order for 3D printed parts to meet the quality of mass production. This is mainly because, unlike most traditional manufacturing technologies, there are many variables in the 3D printing process, and there is a high coupling relationship between process, material, and geometry; The traditional process development and optimization paradigm has been unable to adapt to the highly complex process characteristics of 3D printing. This has also led to a series of challenges that the 3D printing industry is still facing: time-consuming process development and optimization, difficult printing process control, low quality consistency, unpredictable performance, and so on.
On the one hand, the solution that can be referenced is to develop a semantics and provide a generic algorithm tool, so that we can obtain semantic inputs and define production processes, parameters, and designs. The other is to use artificial intelligence (AI) software to collect critical process data from devices, and use AI to analyze these data.
Mass production, production quality and reliability are key. How to improve printing speed and reduce production costs while simultaneously taking into account printing quality and ensuring success rate is a problem that industry participants need to work together to solve. In order to achieve this goal, we still need to make multiple efforts in the next 10 years to achieve the C-bit dream of 3D printing in the manufacturing industry as soon as possible.