Industrial 3D printing applications are gaining momentum in this industry. As a matter of fact, the industrial 3D printer market is growing at fast pace compared to the desktop 3D printer market. In this context, one notes that some manufacturers of desktop 3D printers claim to produce 3D printers that enable industrial applications. Furthermore, another group of manufacturers claims that their 3D printers integrate industrial 3D printer features.
Can we attribute these assertions to a communication strategy that aims to convince professionals to purchase more? Are these assertions true? How could we know what’s true and what’s not given the overabundance of information?
Martin Lansard, CEO and Founder of Aniwaa is one of the resource persons we interviewed in order to address this topic. You will discover below the perspective he shared on the matter. The full analysis can be read in the February issue of 3D ADEPT Mag.
Acknowledged for its large database listing almost all 3D printers that the market can offer as well as thematic guides and 3D printer reviews, Aniwaa aims to support and guide users, be it individuals or professionals, towards a product that best meets their needs.
Please note that the term “desktop 3D printer” will be used to refer to printers that can stand on a desk, unlike industrial systems that require larger and dedicated spaces.
Industrial 3D printing or industrial additive manufacturing consists in the manufacturing of functional parts that integrate specific mechanical properties. This process already underlines a certain difference in quality between an end-product produced using an industrial 3D printing system and an end-product fabricated by a professional 3D printer.
The topic is complex because differentiation criteria vary from one expert to another. Furthermore, there is not a standard definition for the two types of manufacturing process.
For founder and CEO of Aniwaa, Martin Lansard, price, use and operation are key characteristics that enable to differentiate a professional 3D printer from an industrial one.
These are some of the criteria used by the company to compare 3D printers. As far as the price is concerned, the CEO explains that an industrial 3D printer is more expensive than a professional 3D printer. Indeed, industrial systems often cost tens of thousands of euros, which underscore the technical specificities and the production capacities they are capable to achieve.
Talking about use, Martin Lansard declares: “industrial applications increasingly feature the production of final parts, often in small series, whereas professional 3D printers often enable the production of functional prototyping applications. Furthermore, it should be noted that many so-called professional 3D printers differ from consumer 3D printers thanks to their durability and reliability with regards to design, manufacturing materials and other specificities.”
Simply put, a resin 3D printer used in the dental sector would rather be ranged in the professional category while a metal 3D printer that can produce a functional end-part will be ranged in the industrial category.
Lastly, the “operation” characteristic refers to several elements: “a professional 3D printer does not require as much space as an industrial 3D printing system. Moreover, one or more “trained” or “certified” people can efficiently use an additive manufacturing system whereas a professional 3D printer is pretty much easy to integrate into a company’s existing workflow and environment. Lastly, Industrial 3D printing mainly focuses on the physical properties of the part, especially when it comes to the production of final parts that must meet demanding requirements of industries. (The aerospace and the automotive industries for instance, are often subject to a lot of certifications from authorities).”
It’s been 2 or 3 years that there is a certain increase in the market share dedicated to professional 3D printers. Due to advanced research and development, manufacturers are increasingly improving technical specificities and applications that can serve professionals.
How do these professional 3D printers distinguish themselves among others of the same range?
It goes without saying that professional 3D printers capable to achieve industrial applications vary from one to another due to their printing process, characteristics of the end product, printing volume, etc.
In order to guide users, Martin provides a few tips that might help them: “a customer that is looking for high accuracy for the production of moulds in the jewellery sector will turn to a resin 3D printer: the print volume as well as the production rate will determine whether a professional resin printer will be enough or not. If the professional is rather looking for a part that offers mechanical properties that can withstand extreme temperatures, he will be guided towards a printer that can process specific materials such as PEEK. If production of large parts is the main focus, therefore a large volume 3D printer will best fit that need. And if we are facing a small series need, therefore, an industrial 3D printer will certainly be the most convenient.”
In a nutshell…
Manufacturers may increasingly communicate on the ability of professional 3D printers to achieve industrial performances, but there is truth in this communication. However, to find the ideal 3D printer, one must start from the user’s need and must proceed by elimination.
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