2017 has been a year full of innovations and surprises in the 3D printing market. The year has been marked by big investments for growing companies, partnerships to further develop all areas where 3D printing can be applied, innovations in the medical field but also in the manufacturing systems, improvements in the educational system, advancements in the regulations and countless achievements from professionals and 3D printing lovers in other sectors of activity.
In this end of the year, a look back on some of the major happenings in the 3D printing industry is more than necessary in order to appreciate/depreciate what happened and to be prepared to what we can expect from 2018. So, what can we retain from 2017?
New materials on the industrial side
Materials are an essential part of the 3D printing technology. Industry players such as HP launched an open 3D material platform in collaboration with leading chemical companies and partnered to offer best-in-class materials.
Furthermore, in its new offering for additive manufacturing solutions, 3D Systems launched a set of printing systems which include three new production-grade nylon materials on the one hand, on the other hand, new production plastics and metal materials.
A productive year for 3D software
Carbon’s 3D printing software developed its industry tools to design and made polymeric parts using the company’s Digital Light Synthesis™ (DLS) technology and resins. New features of this software include advanced auto supports as well as fast and secure simulations.
Moreover, Ultimaker based its strategy on two new software: Ultimaker Cura and Cura Connect. Ultimaker Cura can provide seamless workflow integration between industry-standard CAD applications such as SolidWorks and Siemens NX whereas Cura Connect allows users to manage a set of Ultimaker 3D printers, creating an accessible solution for prototyping, tooling and small-scale production.
A large number of 3D printers released
Aria entered the family of EnvisionTEC’s desktop 3D printers. Ideal for desktop makers of jewelry, consumer goods such as toys and miniatures as well as industrial parts, Aria integrates a UV LED light engine, a dual-axis Z slide and a material tray built with optical glass instead of plastic.
Uniz launched 5 new 3D printers with a new printing technology called uni-directional peel (UDP) and 53 other new products.
Last, MakeX surprised us with Migo, its affordable and portable internet-enabled FDM 3D printer.
Partnerships and acquisitions: #Together to succeed
Partnerships are probably the great strength of players of this industry. Big players have collaborated with other players in and out of the 3D printing industry.
Materialise for instance, has collaborated with a wide range of companies: in the fashion industry with Safilo to produce 3D printed glasses and Tailored Fits to set up a digital supply chain for custom-fit ski boots. The provider of 3D printing services acquired ACTech, a specialist in production of limited runs of highly complex cast metal parts.
Materialise and Simufact signed an OEM license agreement to enable users to better control the pre-build process by applying Simufact simulation within their familiar data preparation environment.
Prodways Group completed the acquisition of AvenAo, a specialist in the integration of 3D design applications.
The medical industry: a growing sector for 3D printing
Stratasys introduced BioMimics, a solution capable to 3D print medical models that are designed to meet demands of the industry’s leading hospitals, researchers and medical device manufacturers.
ETH Zurich made use of 3D printing to create a silicone artificial heart.
Education, a field where efforts are still to be made
Companies are increasingly requested a qualified and competitive labour force in the field of 3D printing and 3D scanning. Players such as EOS are clearly aware of that and promote 3D printing in universities and research institutes.
Creaform offered 50 free bundle licenses of the VXmodel scan-to-CAD software and VXinspect software.
Be careful to the regulations!
Attention is still to be made on the regulations of this growing sector. Indeed, the more the technology is advancing, the more, regulations are being implemented to ensure a safer use of the technology.
Art & Architecture: fascinating sectors for 3D printing
Neri Oxman (from MIT) showcased at the Milan show 3D printed glass sculptures in collaboration with Lexus.
Little Planet Factory 3D printed replicas of the planets of the Solar System.
The fab lab corner
University of British Columbia Okanagan campus’ researchers created a 3D printed quality sensor device which aims at monitoring drinking water.
2017 has been a year of great change and growth for 3D printing. This list is not exhaustive. It only marks some of the hot topics selected by the 3D Adept team and gives an overview of how dynamic and evolving the 3D printing market will be in 2018.
We look forward to sharing with you the latest news, challenges and innovations the market will be presenting.