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    10 tech predictions for 2020 – #5 The maturity of additive manufacturing

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    3D printers as I'm gonna talk about today have been around for several decades and they have mostly been regarded as an exotic toy not really a competitor to existing production methods But that is changing quite rapidly right now

    The last years 3D printing conference in Frankfurt called Formnext is a great example of the development in this area They had more than 850 exhibitors Today we talk about Additive Manufacturing instead and we already see several commercial products in the market made possible only through Additive Manufacturing Align Technology is one example – they produce individual transparent 3D braces that gradually correct your teeth over time because every two or three weeks you receive a new brace And that's only possible because of 3D printing

    More than 7 million people have had their smiles corrected with this company and they have a market cap at more than 20 billion dollars 3Shape is a Danish dental company they create 3D scanners for dentists and a production system for 3D printing single crowns and prostheses And today they employ more than 1500 people Hearing aids is another industry that are taking advantage of Additive Manufacturing to do mass customization because no two ears are the same But everything from glasses over footwear to bike helmets and even luminaires or lamps are now being launched commercially as 3D printed products

    It's large industries like aerospace, automotive and construction that are investing most heavily in this area because they see technological advances like new affordable high temperature printers that basically means that they can see more cases where this technology makes sense from a viable business point of view And the advantages are many both seen from a business and a sustainability point of view Besides being able to amass customized products, you can work with much smaller scale series and that makes a lot of sense in several industries You can print your spare parts on-demand or on location, which saves you a lot of money And with new materials and new design techniques you can simplify your constructions, so they weigh less and you can even print elements that would otherwise be totally impossible if it weren't for Additive Manufacturing

    The development has led to the formation of something called the AM Hub here in Denmark It's a national focal point for Additive Manufacturing focusing on how we can expand the usage of AM to small and medium enterprises as well And the popularity is spreading fast I predict that 2020 will be the year where the awareness and the acceptance of Additive Manufacturing jumped from being a rogue technology with a kind of a niche position into a much more widely accepted commercial production technique that will be used broadly across several industries

    Source: Youtube

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