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3D Printing Industry Shares Their Predictions for 2018

Picture of Bulent Yusuf
by Bulent Yusuf
Jan 9, 2018

3D Printing Industry Shares Their Predictions for 2018

So how was 2017 for you? Looking forward to 2018? Several leading figures in the 3D printing industry talk to ALL3DP about their expectations for the year ahead.

The start of a new year will often prompt a moment of reflection. But it’s also a cause for excitement. We alternate between taking stock of the preceding 12 months, and pondering what lays in store in the year ahead.

With this is mind, ALL3DP has reached out to some of the leading figures in the 3D printing industry. They were kind enough to share with us their industry assessments of 2017, and their hopes and predictions for 2018.

3D Printing Industry Predictions 2018 Jos Burger

Image of 3D Printing Industry Predictions 2018: Jos Burger

At Ultimaker we have taken great steps in 2017 to make 3D printing more accessible. The technology is widely accepted, more and more materials are supported and companies all over the world embrace 3D printing to speed up their innovation, increase design freedom, better serve their customers and lower their costs. Companies and institutions are witnessing how much 3D printing transforms their businesses and how it will continue to integrate 3D printing in their workflow. From the anonymous usage data of our software, Ultimaker Cura, with more than 2 million users worldwide, we see that the peak in use is during the working week, proving strong uptake in the business segment and universities.

I see our most important task as being to eliminate any obstacles holding people back from using desktop printers in almost all critical phases of a typical product life cycle, from prototyping, small series production, tooling up to spare parts production. Therefore, we will continue and deepen our investments in our printers, Ultimaker Cura, material support and services. We will also strengthen and intensify partnerships with leading chemical and CAD software companies. The recent strong investment of NPM Capital in our company also allows us to speed things up in 2018 in developing new products and entering new markets. 2018 is going to be yet another exciting year and I am very much looking forward to this.

Jos Burger is the CEO at Ultimaker, a market-leader in creating powerful, professional and accessible desktop 3D printers.

3D Printing Industry Predictions 2018 Jonah Myerberg

Image of 3D Printing Industry Predictions 2018: Jonah Myerberg

2017 has been a tremendous year for innovation and advances in 3D printing.  We’re seeing its benefits go beyond simple prototypes to the creation of functional parts, to the advent of technology that will deliver mass production of metal parts at speeds and cost-per-part optimization never before seen.

As the industry continues to progress over the coming months and year, we will see some key trends emerge:

Faster Iteration

Rapid prototyping allows engineers to work quickly through design iteration and also fail fast. Discovering early on that a design doesn’t work saves time in the long run. Plastic 3D printing allows engineers to test form and fit, but metal 3D printing allows them to test function, too. Soon, if iterations can happen quickly enough, designers and engineers will be at a better place in terms of their testing process.

Generative Design

Being able to produce complicated geometries is a key benefit of metal 3D printing. Using computer-aided design (CAD) and artificial intelligence (AI), designers are no longer adding and subtracting from a block. Once the computer solves this puzzle, we can also add constraints to the design that limit the system based on how the part will be manufactured. Our approach to metal 3D printing enables engineers to create these internal structures and complex geometries that would never have been possible to produce any other way.

Consolidated Assemblies

With metal 3D printing and the complicated geometries we’re able to produce, non-functional parts are eliminated and assemblies can be consolidated. When steps in manufacturing are reduced, time to production is shaved off substantially. Fewer parts also means an overall lighter product – this is significant when manufacturing parts for something where speed is of essence, like a race car or aircraft.

Supply Chain Consolidation

Metal 3D printing consolidates the whole supply chain, eliminating the need for inventory stored at a warehouse as well as shipping parts overseas. The ability to bring down the cost of metal 3D printing to increase the flexibility of design will allow small companies to nimbly disrupt longstanding industries that have been invested in a traditional manufacturing technology. This healthy competition is a challenge for the corporations, and in turn a benefit for consumers, who will eventually see competitive prices, attributed to the affordability of metal 3D printing.

Jonah Myerberg is the CTO and Co-founder of Desktop Metal, revolutionizing the metal 3D printing industry by making it accessible and affordable to everyone.

3D Printing Industry Predictions 2018 Nora Toure

Image of 3D Printing Industry Predictions 2018: Nora Toure

2017. What a year! We have seen innovation coming from all sides of the industry.

From 3D printer manufacturers: GE’s new metal machine, Desktop Metal shipping their first printers, Carbon raising another $200 million just a few days ago… Just to name a few!

From services enlarging their scopes of business: Sculpteo released Fabpilot, a competitive Additive Manufacturing software solution, inspired by their 8-year experience as a service bureau.

But also so many new 3D printing applications over the last 12 months. A few of my favorites: Carbon + Adidas partnership, Beauty and the Beak’s 3D printed beak project, Priscila Melo’s work developing a bone implant that incorporates a bioactive ceramic, Voices of Africa’s campaign for 3D Printed medical tools. You cans still donate for this cause by the way!

We are also seeing the industry getting more specific and focus around printer manufacturers, with a few major acquisitions, mergers and funding happening in 2017. I’m pretty sure we are going to see more of those in 2018.

I am personally still as excited by this industry as I was 7 years ago in my debut! Maybe even more actually. We are celebrating Women in 3D Printing’s 3rd year anniversary, and I have to say I’ve never been as hopeful as today about seeing men and women working together, should it be in production, software development, sales and marketing teams.

We still have a lot of work to do toward better recognition of women and diversity in the industry, but I am definitely hopeful for the future. We will see the fundamental shift of 2017 continuing in 2018, not only for Additive Manufacturing, but in all aspects of our societies.

Nora is an additive manufacturing expert since 2010, engaged in inspiring women to embrace tech careers in the 3D printing industry.

3D Printing Industry Predictions 2018 Filemon Schoffer

Image of 3D Printing Industry Predictions 2018: Filemon Schoffer

2017 has been the year of low-cost industrial 3D printing machinery. With the likes of Markforged, HP, Desktop Metal and Formlabs showcasing affordable solutions to previously very expensive technologies. If you’re a designer or engineer you can look forward to 2018 knowing your budget won’t be broken by creating end-use parts using industrial 3D printing. Whether its metal fixtures from a Markforged or Desktop Metal machine, or a Nylon bracket from HP or a Formlabs Fuse 1, you know that you’ll have more high-end options than ever before at a low-end price point. For 3D Hubs this means we can accelerate the adoption of these new innovative technologies  by providing that low-cost access with the fastest, local turnaround times for parts.

Filemon Schöffer is the Chief Marketing Officer at 3D Hubs and is responsible for setting up the world’s largest 3D printing network, with over 20,000 connected services. He also co-authored the 3D Printing Handbook.

3D Printing Industry Predictions 2018 Romain Kidd

Image of 3D Printing Industry Predictions 2018: Romain Kidd

With the 1 millionth 3D printer sold, 2017 saw more consumers than ever adopt the technology. This curve will accelerate in 2018, with even more households getting a 3D printer. The price of the most popular desktop 3D printer models is now less than a video game console, so price is not a barrier any more. Innovation from manufacturers will focus on offering a superior integrated user experience (hardware + software + content). Indeed, MyMiniFactory Click & Print, our unique software solution which removes the need for learning how to slice, allows 3D printers manufacturers to reach clients who would otherwise never get into 3D printing. Consuming 3D printable content on MyMiniFactory is now as easy as watching a video on YouTube.

MyMiniFactory will also offer more reasons for consumers to get a 3D printer in the first place, by following our mission to empower designers to share digital 3D printable objects.

This growing adoption of desktop 3D printers implies an increased demand for high quality 3D printable content, and as a consequence of that, more opportunities for designers to grow their audience, their brand and more ways to monetize their talent and objects.

Romain Kidd is the CEO of MyMiniFactory, a platform and community for creators to share digital objects with 3D printer owners around the world.

3D Printing Industry Predictions 2018 Michael Sorkin

Image of 3D Printing Industry Predictions 2018: Michael Sorkin

2017 had a lot of interesting developments, going from metal 3D printing, to industry specialization, and the move towards mass manufacturing.

A lot of new players entered the metal 3D printing market, but my feeling is that we’re still missing a practical innovation and compelling price point to be truly competitive.

Regarding vertical industries, 2017 was also the year of the International Dental Show in Cologne, Germany, where for the first time the market saw the arrival of sub-€25K, professional dental 3D printers and materials. On the SLA product line, I think we can say that SLA is here to stay and a lot of new, interesting applications in the dental market have shown that. Think about biocompatibility, nightguards, splints.

Lastly, 2017 showed a significant interest into mass production. Due to the amazonification trend of consumers, whereby we all want things on demand, as quickly as possible, and customized to our needs, more and more companies are pushing the limit to innovate faster. Solutions like the Form Cell, which we presented last June as an automated manufacturing system, and Fuse 1, Formlabs’ SLS solution, are the response to these trends.

2018 will be the year where promises must be met. Metal 3D printing innovation will be a hot topic, and I expect more players to enter the market. Mass customization and industry 4.0 will continue to be topics to explore, and we’re excited to see what our Form Cell customers will work on. Lastly, I expect more innovation coming from the material side: an expanding range of applications is what the customers are looking for.

Michael Sorkin is the Head of Europe at Formlabs, the company behind the most advanced high resolution desktop 3D printers.

3D Printing Industry Predictions 2018 Hugo Fromont & Pierre Ayroles

Image of 3D Printing Industry Predictions 2018: Hugo Fromont & Pierre Ayroles

Industry assessments of 2017:

Hopes and predictions for 2018:

  • FDM 3D printing will improve by allowing to print much faster. (e.g. algorithm to speed up printing from Massachusetts Institute of Technology engineers)
  • Personal 3D printers will allow printing in multiple colors (e.g. Da Vinci Color)
  • 3D modeling for 3D printing will become more and more valued because manufacturing is no longer a barrier. Only the idea of design will be important and its distribution, its sharing, will be strategic.

Hugo Fromont & Pierre Ayroles are cofounders of the 3D printing platform Cults.

3D Printing Industry Predictions 2018 Daniel Norée

Image of 3D Printing Industry Predictions 2018: Daniel Norée

I do look forward to see more about multicolor FDM printing and that´s mostly because it´s something I would like to adapt in my own projects such as the OpenRC project.

Other than that I´m also really interested in seeing more about 3D printing metal using the techniques similar to what Markforged and DesktopMetal are developing.

I´m always interested to see any development in 3D printing and I think 2018 will be a great year if you’re into 3D printing.

Daniel Norée is the designer of 3DBenchy, the jolly 3D printing torture test, and the OpenRC project.

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