The year 2020 brought a surprise for additive manufacturing in the form of a pandemic, which no one predicted. What might happen in 2021? Here are a few predictions from Shapeways.
As a leader in the additive manufacturing space for business and consumer customers, Shapeways gathered insights from industry insiders, strategic partners, and high-profile business and consumer customers, the company released its predictions on what will be the key drivers of this industry in 2021.
- Software becomes imperative
3D printing software enables companies to scale the technology as their business needs warrant. “Scaling doesn’t mean just doing more, it means doing 3D printing efficiently and consistently,” states Greg Kress, CEO of Shapeways. Software makes it easier to create 3D printed products and guide customers through all aspects of the process. 3D printing at scale involves nesting, tray planning, file fixing, build planning and more. Software provides the insight required to get prints manufactured correctly and therefore make it easier to produce quality products.
- 3D Printing will continue to expand to other industries
Additive manufacturing has already disrupted the eyewear, dental, and hearing aid markets. It will continue to do so as more companies constantly innovate product ideas and leverage 3D printing to make those ideas a reality.
The core industries of aerospace, automotive, and healthcare will continue to grow however other industries will present opportunities. 3D printing is about end use of the product and doesn’t always make sense for every product, however for some it’s the perfect tool. Applications that have a high mix – low volume take full advantage of the benefits of additive manufacturing.
- COVID-19 is not going anywhere
In 2020, COVID-19 shook the world and put additive manufacturing in the mainstream spotlight with PPE and healthcare production. Unfortunately, for the near-term, COVID-19 will still be a part of business planning and operations in 2021. Additive manufacturing is built for situations such as these that require business to adapt and adjust to market conditions.
- Supply chain agility will ramp up
Companies will continue to rethink redundancy, who their suppliers are, and look to high mix – low volume on-demand manufacturing. 3D printing will play a large part in the supply chain conversations as they have in 2020. In addition, more distributed manufacturing will be a consideration as end products are produced closer to the end user.
- Investment in 3D printing accelerates
Materials, hardware, and software for additive manufacturing will attract investors to the space. Venture Capital firms and larger companies with investment divisions will find 3D printing companies to invest in for strategic positioning or to enable new revenue streams. In addition, the consolidation that we have seen across the market in 2020 will continue well into 2021.