I almost can't believe I am writing this but I just got back from attending my first live conference since the COVID pandemic hit us! I was fortunate enough to attend the 2021 Additive Manufacturing Users Conference (AMUG) where the leading users of additive gather to share their knowledge, expertise, and updates on best-in-class additive manufacturing processes. There is too much to share in just one blog so I will have more follow-up blogs but wanted to start with what the experts noted as the trends they saw in 2020. In one of the sessions, industry leaders outlined what they believe will be the next areas of success around 3D print in 2021. Here are my notes from what was presented...
BASF - Noted that they are seeing more traditional injection molding companies looking to leverage additive manufacturing and leveraging 3D print to augment their traditional services. Historically because of the volume and material needs that injection molders require they have been slower to adopt Additive Manufacturing technologies but BASF believes advancement in materials and throughput will increase the adoption.
DMG Mori - Stated they believe automation around 3D print, enhanced reliability, and improved quality assurance processes will be key for additive. Much like the notes above from BASF, they believe adoption will also increase as the materials improve for both metal and composites. In addition, more hybrid systems will be leveraged to take advantage of both traditional and new manufacturing technologies.
Dyndrite - Believes that software solutions have lagged 3D print technology and 2021 will be the year software makes a big step forward to catch up. With the explosion of manufacturing data, software will need to be developed to run 3D printers more efficiently, quickly and to leverage data better. The need for technology-agnostic front ends will be another improvement as manufacturers will leverage various 3D print technologies.
Essentium - Predicts the continued rise of full-scale production, improved leveraging of 3D print for supply chain resiliency, and the development of materials to solve specific applications versus a general material solution. The trend for true additive manufacturing that occurred in 2020 will continue into 2021.
ExOne - Beyond just the overall desire for 3D metal parts, they see the demand for more metal materials will increase along with the desire to implement additive processes to satisfy green initiatives. There will also be a continued leveraging for metal print for light-weighting and part consolidation. Metal certainly has a strong future.
Take these as my notes and I encourage you to visit each of their websites to see what they are focused on. Overall I believe the message was consistent, it's not only about the print technology but the processes utilized both before and after printing. Design processes and technologies will continue to evolve to better leverage and prepare data for printing. The post finishing processes will be improved to support a true manufacturing process for both producing parts in quantity but with quality assurance. Throw in materials development and I believe 2021 will be another step forward to true additive manufacturing.
As always, if any of the directions I noted above resonate with you (or does not) please reach out as I am always curious to hear real-world feedback.
Lastly, I encourage you to check out the Additive Manufacturing User Group - www.amug.com
The Additive Manufacturing Users Group's origins date back to the early 1990s when the founding industry users group called 3D Systems North American Stereolithography User Group. Today, AMUG educates and supports users of all additive manufacturing technologies. If you are at all involved in 3D around production, this is a group you should support and join.
More to come in later blogs...