Prior to the 3D Printshow in Berlin All3DP.com talked to some of the guest speakers in order to get insights into the 3D design and print industry of today and tomorrow.
Our first interview guest was Filemon Schöffer, Head of Community at 3D Hubs
3D printing in manufacturing – the biggest potential
Q: Where do you see the biggest potential for using 3D printing technology in manufacturing?
A: Very general I would say, everything that traditional manufacturing is bad at (and 3D printing good). So think of:
* Small to medium series of relatively complex products, like Automotive or Aerospace parts. As 3D printing becomes technically more advanced, I also expect more applications for ‘traditional’ mass production, but this is not where 3D printing currently differentiates.
* Products where customizability is very important, medical, fashion or food applications. I’m confident that 3D printing can launch these sectors into a new era.
* Finally, all applications where distributed, or local, manufacturing has advantages over centralised production (which includes shipping and stocking). I expect the amount of products where this is the case to increase drastically.
3D printing in mass production?
Q: Right now, 3D printing is used mainly for small-batch production. However, there are more and more attempts to establish 3D printing also in mass production. What is required for 3D printing to also get a foothold in mass production.
A: Also see my first bullet above.
It’s hard to predict but there can be a future where producing a single (standard) part can become cheaper than producing in mass, in a centralized location, in China, for example. It’s interesting to reflect on this by looking at highly simplified value chains of both systems:
* Mass production: Central Production – Storage – International Shipping – Local Storage – (if sold – this is important because the product is already made before sold) – Local Shipping – Consumption
* Local Production: (if sold – the starting point, in this case) – Local Production – Local shipping – Consumption
When, for example, international shipping gets a lot more expensive, or local production a lot cheaper (3D printing developments), the Local Production Value Chain can be an interesting alternative to mass production.
3D Hubs and its plans
Q: We find the 3D Hubs network a fascinating concept. What are your plans with 3D Hubs short-term and long-term?
A: I’m excited to say that we have some really promising and possibly disrupting stuff coming up:
* Short term: We will keep focussing on the community and expanding the platform based on their insights. At its heart, this means developing the tools that allow our Hubs to be great Hubs and run their own micro-factory. Next to that we will severely upgrade the functionality of our platform to incorporate professional grade printers better. This way we aim to have the most diverse and complete platform for 3D printing.
* Long term is even cooler, but I’m not telling ;p
Profile: Filemon Schöffer
Filemon Schöffer and his family have a long history in printing. Around 1450, Filemon’s grand grand grandfather, Peter Schöffer, made the family’s first move into the print business, working as an engineer in Germany, assisting Gutenberg with the development of the first printing press. After a short detour from the family in producing beer, which led to the infamous Schöfferhofer, Filemon thought the time was right for the family to step back into modern printing, 3D printing that is. With a background in both Physics and Industrial Design Engineering Filemon hopes he’s able to contribute to moving the 3D printing industry forward. Since 2013, he works as Head of Community at 3D Hubs.
License: The text of "Interview with Filemon Schöffer, 3D Hubs" by All3DP is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.