As has been the trend for the last decade, Industrial 3D printing is expected to continue its growth in 2023. Like most manufacturing industries in general, additive manufacturing has also had many challenges over the past three years, including the ongoing trade war between US and China amongst other socio-political factors. Despite these challenges, Additive Manufacturing (AM) has helped manufacturers overcome supply chain disruption while creating stronger and lighter products that are designed to use less material and fewer parts. Additive Manufacturing is continuing to gain popularity as manufacturers of all sizes are adopting it under their production processes. Here are five of the most important trends taking place in the 3D printing industry in 2023:
1. Industry Upskill
By upskilling, we mean the process of workers learning new skills or improving existing ones to keep up with technological advancements and industry changes. In the case of Additive Manufacturing, upskilling refers to the push from manufacturers to hire product designers and mechanical engineers that can design products to be manufactured with this technology, which is substantially different from traditional subtractive manufacturing technologies, such as CNC machining.
The Need for Upskilling in Additive Manufacturing
Additive Manufacturing involves the creation of three-dimensional objects using digital design and computer-controlled processes. This technology has gained popularity in recent years due to its ability to produce complex shapes and geometries that cannot be achieved using traditional manufacturing methods. However, to fully benefit from this technology, there is a need to upskill the workforce.
The AM industry requires workers who have the technical knowledge and skills to design products that can be manufactured using this technology. This includes knowledge of 3D modeling software, materials science, and machine operation. In addition, workers need to understand the benefits and limitations of AM technology, as well as how to optimize designs for this manufacturing process.
Exploratory Users in the AM Industry
Despite the benefits of AM technology, there is still a significant number of exploratory users who lack the confidence to adopt this technology. These users see the value of AM but need support from manufacturers to fully embrace it. This presents a significant opportunity cost for businesses as they miss out on the benefits of using AM in their manufacturing processes.
Training Programs for Upskilling in Additive Manufacturing
To address the skills gap in the AM industry, businesses are sponsoring training programs for their workforce. These programs may be delivered online, virtually, or on the shop floor using augmented reality and other training tools. The training programs are designed to provide workers with the technical knowledge and skills necessary to design, operate, and maintain AM machines.
Benefits of Upskilling in Additive Manufacturing
Upskilling in AM has several benefits for businesses, including:
Increased Productivity: Workers who are trained in AM can design and manufacture products faster, reducing production time and increasing output.
Cost Savings: AM technology can reduce material waste and energy consumption, resulting in cost savings for businesses. Upskilling can help businesses optimize designs to maximize the benefits of this technology.
Competitive Advantage: Businesses that adopt AM technology and upskill their workforce gain a competitive advantage over their competitors who are slow to embrace this technology.
Innovation: Upskilling can also foster innovation by encouraging workers to think outside the box and come up with new and creative ways of using additive manufacturing to improve products and processes.
Industrial acceptance of Additive Manufacturing will continue to grow throughout the year, so we are expecting to see more companies sponsor training, be it online or virtual, or even on the shop floor with augmented reality and other training tools to help upskill their workforce in 2023.
2. Additive Manufacturing used for Application-Driven Production
Factory concepts will become application driven. That is, the whole design and development process will revolve around the intended application of the product. In additive manufacturing (AM), application-driven product development means using AM technology to create products that are optimized for specific applications and requirements. Examples of application driven products are:
Aerospace parts: AM is used to produce lightweight, optimized parts for use in aerospace applications. For example, GE Aviation used AM to produce a complex fuel nozzle for its LEAP engine, which is 25% lighter and five times more durable than its previous model.
Medical implants: AM is used to produce customized medical implants, such as prosthetic limbs or dental implants. By using AM, designers can create implants that are tailored to the specific anatomy of the patient, improving their comfort and functionality.
Automotive parts: AM is used to produce lightweight, high-performance parts for use in racing and other high-performance automotive applications. For example, Bugatti used AM to produce the brake calliper for its Chiron hyper car, which is the largest functional titanium component produced using AM.
Jewellery: AM is used to produce intricate, customized jewellery designs that would be difficult or impossible to produce using traditional manufacturing methods. For example, companies like Shape ways and Sculpted offer custom 3D printing services for jewellery designers, allowing them to create unique designs for their customers.
These are just a few examples of how AM is being used for application-driven product development. By tailoring products to their intended application, designers and engineers can take advantage of the unique capabilities of AM to create products that are more efficient, effective, and innovative than traditional manufacturing methods would allow.
3. Additive Manufacturing: Digital Thread
Digital thread is the flow of data that occurs throughout a product’s life cycle, from design to production, maintenance, and beyond. This article explores the importance of digital thread in additive manufacturing and how it can benefit businesses.
Importance of Digital Thread in Additive Manufacturing
Additive manufacturing, also known as 3D printing, involves the creation of three-dimensional objects by adding layer upon layer of material. Throughout the printing process, data can be collected and fed back into the digital thread. This data can be used to analyze the printing process and improve the final product’s quality.
Connecting Systems and Processes in Additive Manufacturing
Digital thread connects all the different systems and processes involved in additive manufacturing into one unified digital workflow. This includes CAD software, simulation tools, and production equipment. By integrating these systems and processes, businesses can have more control over the production process, spot, and fix problems faster, and produce higher-quality products at a lower cost.
Data Collection and Analysis in Additive Manufacturing
In additive manufacturing, sensors can be used to collect data on temperature, humidity, and other factors that could affect the printing process. This data can then be analyzed to optimize the printing process and ensure the final product’s quality. By analyzing the data, businesses can make data-driven decisions, such as changing the printing parameters or adjusting the design.
Connecting Manufacturing Sites with Digital Thread
For businesses that have manufacturing sites spread out all over the world, digital thread is especially important. It helps to connect all those different sites and systems into one cohesive digital workflow, giving businesses more control over the production process. In case of natural disasters or other disruptions, digital thread enables businesses to easily continue production at another site, no matter where it is in the world.
Digital thread in additive manufacturing is critical for businesses that want to produce high-quality products at a lower cost. By connecting all the different systems and processes involved in additive manufacturing into one unified digital workflow, businesses can have more control over the production process, spot, and fix problems faster, and produce higher-quality products. As additive manufacturing continues to grow, we expect to see more businesses adopt digital thread to optimize their production processes.
4. Hybrid Materials Innovation
TherHybrid materials have emerged as a significant innovation in the field of additive manufacturing. These materials are composed of two or more different materials, which are blended in various ways to create a new material with unique properties. In this article, we will explore the importance of hybrid materials in additive manufacturing and the recent advancements in this area.
Importance of Hybrid Materials in Additive Manufacturing
Hybrid materials have become increasingly important in additive manufacturing due to their unique properties. These materials offer a range of benefits, such as improved strength, durability, and functionality. They can also reduce production costs and lead times, making them an attractive option for manufacturers.
Recent Advancements in Hybrid Materials for Additive Manufacturing
Researchers at the University of Sheffield have developed a new hybrid material made from aluminium and carbon fibres. This material combines the lightweight properties of aluminium with the strength and stiffness of carbon fibres, making it ideal for applications in the aerospace and automotive industries. Another recent development is the creation of a hybrid material that combines graphene and silver nanoparticles, which exhibit unique electrical and thermal properties that make them useful for sensors and energy storage applications.
Composites, which blend materials such as plastics and carbon fibres, and metallic alloys, which combine different types of metals to create new properties, are other examples of hybrid materials for AM. There are also biohybrid materials that combine living cells with synthetic materials. These materials can be used to create a wide range of products, from lightweight and strong aerospace components to biomedical implants that can integrate with the body’s natural tissues.
Future of Hybrid Materials in Additive Manufacturing
With ongoing advancements in hybrid material development, we can expect to see continued growth and innovation in the field of additive manufacturing. As new materials and applications are discovered, hybrid materials are expanding the capabilities of additive manufacturing and unlocking new possibilities for engineering and design. From aerospace and automotive manufacturing to biomedical implants and beyond, hybrid materials will play an increasingly important role in the manufacturing industry, enabling engineers and designers to create products that are stronger, lighter, and more functional than ever before.
Hybrid materials have become an integral part of additive manufacturing due to their unique properties and benefits. Recent advancements in hybrid materials, such as the development of the aluminium and carbon fibre hybrid material and the graphene and silver nanoparticle hybrid material, have opened new possibilities for engineering and design. As we look to the future, hybrid materials will continue to be an important area of innovation in the manufacturing industry.
5. Additive Manufacturing Sustainability
Environmental sustainability has been a trend for several years, and manufacturers and brands are taking action to lessen their impact on the environment as end customers are starting to demand evidence of sustainability credentials of the products and services they buy.
We believe that this trend is only going to get stronger in 2023 and beyond.
Additive Manufacturing is already considered more sustainable than traditional manufacturing, but here is a list of actions that most AM companies are currently taking:
- Material recycling: Many additive manufacturing companies are exploring ways to recycle their raw materials, such as plastic filaments or metal powders, to reduce waste and conserve resources. Some companies are developing closed-loop systems that enable them to recycle their materials on-site, while others are partnering with third-party recyclers to process their waste materials.
- Energy efficiency: Additive manufacturing companies are also taking steps to reduce their energy consumption, both in the production process and in their facilities. This includes investing in more efficient equipment and technology, such as LED lighting and energy-efficient HVAC systems, as well as optimizing their production processes to reduce energy waste.
- Sustainable materials: Some additive manufacturing companies are exploring the use of sustainable materials, such as bio-based polymers or recycled metals, in their production processes. These materials have a lower environmental impact than traditional materials and can help to reduce the carbon footprint of additive manufacturing.
- Localized production: Additive manufacturing can enable localized production, which reduces the need for long-distance shipping and transportation. This can help to reduce the carbon emissions associated with shipping and transportation and can also help to support local economies.
It can only be expected that these and more actions are going to become even more important in the coming years.
Industrial 3D printing is poised to continue growing in 2023. The five most important trends are the industry upskill, application-driven production, the digital thread, hybrid materials innovation, and sustainability. These trends will help scale production and provide manufacturers with greater confidence in Additive Manufacturing and associated digital manufacturing technologies. Contact Dragon Metal Manufacturing now!