The 3D printing / additive manufacturing industry continues to fascinate with many stories about medical successes, innovative materials and company changes. Even though this industry is no longer in the middle of the hype cycle, much development and change remains, such as the growing shift of creating additive systems for manufacturing and the recent introductions of several new AM systems and technologies.
What might happen in the near future? Several people have some thoughts on this subject. One is Mark Norfolk, president and CEO, Fabrisonic. Here are his predictions for 2016.
“Additive manufacturing has grown out of the rapid prototyping field, and many of the most prolific applications of metal 3D printing are for prototyping and early low volume production. In 2016, we see the industry pivoting to true part manufacturing. There are a number of reasons that serial part manufacturing is at an inflection point:
The buzz around 3D printing has quickly grown the base of installed machines to where more manufacturers are educated about the true capabilities, as well as short comings of 3D printing.
Public examples of part manufacturing are starting to come to light, such as several prominent GE Aviation parts. This is driving “why aren’t we doing this” questions from the C-suite of many manufacturing giants.
With many core patents expiring, new entries into the market, particularly metal 3D printing, are providing more capability and driving down costs.
Many users have completed their development programs and are starting to quote serial production. This includes components such as complex heat exchangers, integrated electrical devices, and radiation shielding.”