80 additive manufacturing experts predict the 3D printing trends to watch in 2020

Michael Petch – January 15th 2020

Predicting the future is impossible. But that doesn’t stop us at 3D Printing Industry from inviting CEOs, CTOs and other AM experts to give us 3D printing predictions for 2020.

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Marie Langer, CEO, EOS GmbH

Over the years, additive manufacturing has transitioned from a system and materials to a complete end-to-end solution business. During the same time, we managed to substantially decrease material costs and increase process productivity, as such making AM a key driver of digital manufacturing on a cost-per part level. We will continue to enable accelerated technology qualification and certification procedures to speed up the further industrialization of our technology – all with the aim of upscaling factories to large-scale serial production. Digital AM business models are just beginning to develop – EOS is determined to accompany customers on their way.

Arno Held, Chief Venture Officer, AM Ventures

The year 2020 will be a big year of post-processing technologies. Anything that turns a 3D printed part into an end-product will be very much welcomed by experienced users and will continue to boost the number of additively manufactured high volume applications.

On top of this, we are going to see even more new and different hardware concepts surfacing which will enable us to process new ranges of materials that have not been processable before.

Naresh Shanker, Chief Technology Officer, Xerox

The industry is at a critical inflection point — we’ve built these amazing 3D printers that are capable of reliably manufacturing high-volume, end-use parts. To fully realize these capabilities, we need to innovate for adjacent processes while embracing data-driven approaches to ensure consistent, reliable output.

For broad adoption of 3D printing on the factory floor, two things need to happen. First, there will be an increased focus on advancing the infrastructure required to support 3D printing — and by infrastructure, I mean everything beyond the printer that makes additive manufacturing happen: additive design, manufacturing workflow, and new or improved materials.

Second, we’ll see the adoption of “closed-loop” systems, 3D printers with new, sensor-based technologies to ensure repeatability and quality — empowering OEMs to yield parts with certifiable material and dimensional properties.

Vyomesh Joshi, President & CEO, 3D Systems

In 2019, we saw 3D production become a reality. In fact, customers relied on our solutions to create more than 200 million production parts over the course of the year. With the availability of solutions that include materials, hardware and software designed for production applications, I believe the adoption of additive manufacturing to create production parts will continue to grow. We’ve crossed the chasm, and will begin to see more use cases where serial production is ramping up. Increased adoption will continue to be led by core markets such as healthcare, dental and aerospace. In fact, I believe we’ll see an increased number of medical device manufacturers in the coming year integrating metal 3D printing into their manufacturing workflows.

We’ll also see OEMs accelerating innovation in production materials, post-processing and automation to support new applications. I also believe more companies will bring a level of sophistication to how software integrates into their manufacturing workflows. Design, Engineering, Planning, the Shop Floor, and Inspection (QC) will come together into a cloud-based process that harnesses the capabilities of individual platforms to power the entire process.

Bart Van der Schueren, CTO, Materialise

Multinational corporations are becoming increasingly influential, and with that influence comes responsibility. The 3D printing industry is not exempt from this and needs to consider the social and environmental impact of the technology. This means that, as we develop new products and technologies to help our customers create innovative and meaningful applications, sustainability will become top of mind. 3D printing already affords companies with an instrument to manufacture in a more sustainable way — both socially and environmentally. As a result, many view 3D printing as a positive force that helps companies operate more sustainably. But that is simply not enough. Our industry can and needs to do more, by developing new and innovative ways to reduce our impact on the societies we interact with and the environments we operate in. Moving forward, the question is not: is 3D printing a more sustainable manufacturing technology? The question becomes: what can we do to make 3D printing more sustainable?

Jeng-Ywan Jeng, Professor Distinguished Professor of NTUST, Director of NTUST High Speed 3D Printing Research Center

With 3D printing technology becoming more mature than before, many obstacles we faced can be solved, especially for the photo-curing  type of 3D printing. It used to have the problem that the productivity is too low and the cost is too high. And now there’s a new solution that might be able to save wasting time for ensuring the prints can stick to the platform, not the bottom vat. With this breakthrough, LCD 3D printers can be applied in more industries and expand the usage of it. More and more prototype models or even the final products can be printed out with high productivity and efficiency. LCD 3D printer will have a new place in the industry this year. 

Karen Linder, CEO, Tethon 3D

2020 will be the Year of AM Materials. The AM industry will see a wide variety of new material products released. Those that are most successful will be those for which there are specific end use product applications of high value and large market. But even materials that present a solution to an (as yet) unknown problem could have a huge impact on our world once the creative minds of AM users are stimulated by the possibilities.

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