Jan 29, 2016 | By Alec

Over the past few years, the use of 3D printing by professionals has exploded. Diverse companies and industries throughout the West and East Asia have been experimenting with it in one way or another, while 3D printers are even becoming full-fledged manufacturing tools. This seems to be something of a global trend, though Denmark is an exception. A new report by the Danish Technological Institute has revealed that just four percent of the country’s innovative companies use 3D printing effectively, and they warn that this lack of interest can seriously threaten the country’s competitive position.

It has been quite noticeable that industrial 3D printing applications have been skyrocketing in popularity, in part boosted by technological and material innovations and dropping prices. Denmark is therefore quite an unusual anomaly. The report, called '3D printing in Danish companies', shows that the Danish manufacturing sector is lagging behind dramatically. As many as 80 percent of the interviewed businesses who focus on innovation have so far done nothing with 3D printing, while only four percent are regularly and effectively using it, the specialists from the Danish Technological Institute reveal. The report was prepared as part of the project Production in Denmark, funded by the Danish State Agency for Science and Innovation.

This has caused quite some consternation, especially as the Danish experts feel that 3D printing has become mature enough to be of practical use for prototyping and small-scale production. They refer to a study done by PLM Group with the Danish plastics company Vilecon, which has shown that tooling costs could be reduced by as much as 95 percent. They also point to the technology’s prototyping advantages, as it is so easy to implement small alterations. It also, they say, enables companies to avoid working with expensive subcontractors for production.

As 81 percent of the surveyed companies are producing small quantities of products regularly – or commission pre-production examples – 3D printing really offers a lot to the Danish industry, the experts say. “Faster and easier development of prototypes is also a prerequisite for continuing to remain competitive, but also to maintain a high level of product innovation and have the potential for quicker launches of new products,” Claus Erichsen argued during the press release for the report. Overall, the Danish manufacturing sector is damaging their own competitive position by not adopting 3D printing technology, they conclude.

Those Danish companies already using 3D printing can largely be found in the electronics, plastic, glass and concrete industries, and also include developers of electronic appliances. For the report, the Technological Institute interviewed the managers of small to medium-sized Danish manufacturing companies with 5 to 250 employees and discussed their (potential) use of 3D printing in product development and production.



Posted in 3D Printing Technology



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