Dec 31, 2016 | By Tess

While 2016 might have been a trying year in many ways, one of the major silver linings has been the amazing advancements in technology, perhaps most notably in additive manufacturing. As necessary as it is to look back on the past year, however, it is also important—not to mention exciting—to look forward to 2017, which holds the promise of even more amazing innovations and AM advancements. As is customary at the end of the year, research and advisory firm Gartner has released its predictions for 2017 and, in the field of 3D printing, they look pretty positive.

The overall consensus of the 19-page-long report, called “Gartner’s annual predictions about the future of 3D printing”, is that 3D printing will continue to advance and grow within a wide range of industries over the next years, including in the industrial manufacturing industry, the medical sector, and more.

Key highlights of the report include the projection that by 2020, 10% of industrial operations will integrate robotic 3D printing technologies into their manufacturing, 30% of internal medical implants and devices will be 3D printed (and increasingly printed on location), product introduction timelines will be reduced by 25% because of 3D printing, and a whopping 75% of manufacturing operations across the globe will integrate 3D printed tools, jigs, and fixtures for the production of finished goods.

Each of the points is based on a number of findings and reports done by Gartner. For instance, in the projection that 10% of industrial operations will integrate robotic 3D printers by 2020, the analysis takes into account that over the past ten years, 3D printing has transformed from a primarily prototyping technology to one suitable for making quick-to-market products, specialized designs, and low-volume production runs. On a basic level, it is only natural to assume the technology will continue to advance and become more sophisticated.

Spider Robot

Gartner cites a number of developments that are currently underway that point to further advancements, including autonomous and collaborative robotic 3D printing (i.e. Siemens’ Spider Robot), end-of-arm tooling on automation, integrated inspection systems, large-scale automation and construction, factory floor “hybrid” machines that combine 3D printing with CNC milling, and more.

The report reads, “We expect the automated 3DP systems to become more sophisticated. Many of those older, error-prone, preprogrammed automation efforts will be superseded by the new breed of intelligent automation that can adapt and self-correct. The process will monitor itself as it is being printed and either correct the process or reject the part when problems occur. The nature of 3DP and the continuous, high-inspection requirements make “smart automation” a better fit in the long-term for the manufacturing processes than older programmable robotic approaches.”

The prediction that 30% of internal medical implants and devices will be 3D printed by 2020 is not entirely surprising, as we see on almost a daily basis how 3D printed implants are becoming increasingly viable. The primary reason for the acceleration of this 3D printing application has to do with the demand for customized medical treatments and devices. Over the next few years, Gartner is confident that certain challenges surrounding 3D printing implants (such as the time it takes to print, sterilize, and inspect) will be accounted for and improved upon.

3D printed implant

As mentioned, Gartner has also predicted that by 2020, 3D printing will reduce new product introduction timelines by 25%. Again, we’ve already seen evidence of this, as companies across a wide range of industries have been using additive manufacturing to speed up prototyping processes. That is, using 3D printing, companies are better equipped to turn out prototypes, test them, present them to clients, adjust and tweak them, and repeat. As Gartner says, “The number of iterations enabled by rapid and iterative prototyping results in short new-product development time, lower development costs and fewer finished goods defects.”

Gartner’s final strategic planning assumption predicts that in the next few years, 75% of manufacturing operations across the globe will be using 3D printed tools, jigs, and fixtures, made on location or through a 3D printing service, for product manufacturing. Essentially, this means that companies will not necessarily give up their existing manufacturing methods but rather use a combination of more traditional practices and 3D printing; use additive manufacturing to supplement and support their existing techniques.

This is largely due to 3D printing’s ability to manufacture strong and practical tools, jigs and fixtures. As Gartner explains, 3D printing can be used to make heat-resistant molds, and custom tools that make factory floor tasks more efficient. Notably, additive manufacturing and CAD software also allow for said tools to be redesigned and optimized on the fly. Importantly, being able to 3D print such tools as molds helps to cut down on both time and costs for injection molding processes.

Gartner’s full 2017 predictions report can be found here.



Posted in 3D Printing Application



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SU wrote at 1/1/2017 12:36:46 PM:

What about kidney transplants or Any thing in relation to CKD?

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