2016 proved to be a buyer's market in the 3D printing industry, and the trend is expected to continue in 2017. Prices of equipment and supplies continue to drop, so users of in-house 3D printers can expect to see continuing price reductions.
Firms that elect to outsource 3D design or printing can expect lower prices and better quality as well. Increased competition, technological advances and industry trends all point to greater manufacturing options and quality at reduced cost.
Lower Prices, Better Quality Printers
With a large number of companies offering 3D printers, and rapid advances in technology, prices are almost certain to continue to drop. You can purchase a basic 3D printer for around $300 or less, or purchase a high-resolution 3D printer and scanner that includes design software and prints complex prototypes and models for a few thousand dollars. Related 3D printing supplies, such as filament spools, continue to drop in price as well.
In addition, firms that outsource 3D design or printing will often find more providers offering higher-quality customer service, a wider selection of 3D design and manufacturing options, improved production consistency, enhanced physical and digital security, and greater traceability of materials.
More Manufacturing Options
You can expect to find more options in 3D printing materials, including glass and graphene. In addition, a growing list of providers with "big area" 3D printers means that your company can outsource 3D printing of ever-larger and more complex objects more affordably. Some providers are offering 3D printing of large and complex objects, such as aircraft wings or aircraft engine frames.
Another major trend of 2016 is holistic manufacturing, which consolidates many parts into a single one using cutting-edge 3D design and printing technology. GE has used this technology to 3D print a consolidated part, replacing 21 separate parts that previously had to be cast, transported to one location and then assembled. Although this technology may still be too expensive for many smaller firms to implement in-house, especially in limited production runs, more providers will be providing holistic manufacturing services at prices that are likely to decrease. 3D apps, along with cloud-based products and systems, promise to make these services more accessible and affordable than ever before.
3D Printing Apps and the Cloud
We’ll soon see more commercially available 3D printing apps, including cloud-based virtual inventory apps and even AI-based apps that design things based on designer inputs and criteria. A cloud-based virtual inventory app is coming soon and it could be the first 3D printing killer app. Such an app would make it a lot easier for your firm to design and manufacture just-in-time inventory, reducing some of the costs associated with warehousing. A growing network of providers means companies will be able to take advantage of scalable production services on an as-needed basis, similar to the way Amazon clients tap into its elastic computing cloud as needed.
Some software companies are implementing generative design in the 3D printing process, sometimes tapping into artificial-intelligence-based systems to design complex objects that only 3D printers can produce. Some of these software companies are expected to provide commercially available 3D design apps.
3D printing has come of age and is no longer just for creating prototypes. Many companies are using the technology to manufacture end-use products. The demand for companies offering these services at affordable prices is enormous, with potentially wide-reaching and disruptive effects in coming years; more than a few manufacturers and engineers have referred to the coming time as "the next Industrial Revolution." Look for the industry to raise the bar as consumers and "pro-sumers" alike demand greater service and quality from a crowded and growing field of providers.
All content provided herein is for educational purposes only. It is provided “as is” and neither the author nor Office Depot, Inc. warrant the accuracy of the information provided, nor do they assume any responsibility for errors, omissions or contrary interpretation of the subject matter herein.
/account/v2/editBillingDisplay,/orderhistory/subsManager,/orderhistory/submitReturn,/account/accountSummaryDisplay,/account/loginAccountDisplay,/account/myfiles,/csl/listAllhttps://request.eprotect.vantivcnp.com/eProtect/js/payframe-client3.min.js?d=20200809 Join Now