From New York to Paris, to London, Milan, and beyond, 3D printing (or additive manufacturing) is becoming more prevalent with jaw dropping rates of usage. Since its original inception, 3D technology has advanced as if a wave of a proverbial magic wand and a loud exclamation of presto made a plethora of mid range 3-D printers with desktop compatibility. These models have rocketed into the hands of users across the globe. Yes, we believe it is time to start getting excited about the present state of 3D Printing. A well known market research team by the name of Canalys has predicted that the world’s 3D printer market will elevate in growth from a $2.5 billion industry to roughly $16 billion by the end of 2018. The story seems to tell a tale of being more than just developing affordable printers. In fact, some reports have pointed out that as certain patents expire, we can expect an influx beyond our wildest imaginations. With that said, our (Mixer Direct’s) relationship to additive manufacturing has been greatly strengthened and we are both excited and optimistic regarding the prospect of all the potential pathways this industry will pave in 2016 and beyond. Let’s take a look at 4 interesting 3D printing trends to watch in 2016.
Affordability and Wider Usage
If you were to rewind the clock back 10 years, you would be able to take home a 3D printer for the wonderful price of $100,000. Thankfully the times they are a changing. Affordability is a major factor in 3D printing for 2016. Ultimately the intention is that this technology will fall into more hands and essentially spread the good news of how valuable this tool is to everyday life. The question is, how has it been made more affordable? A few reasons include more cost effective materials, decreasing filament waste, and a more cost effective hardware design. Our best efforts to scour the internets turned up an affordable 3D printer price range that fell in between $200 - $1000.
Auto Manufacturing Integration
This year we have already begun to witness the first fruits of 3D printing as a valuable addition to industries like aerospace, automotive manufacturing, pharmaceuticals and more. For instance let’s take a closer look at the automotive industry. The automotive industry is utilizing 3D printing to give literal physical shape to new design concepts, manufacturing parts and accessories, and hopeful plans to one day print an entire car in a inconceivable time frame. 3Dprint.com recently chimed in with a plethora of reasons for the auto industry to adopt this technology including faster production, better flexibility of design, elimination of risk, cutting out suppliers, and a lowered effect on the environment. The pinnacle benefit and appeal of this craft to the auto manufacturing industry seems to be saving one of the most valuable assets known to man: time. It almost goes without saying, but we could not resist a good old fashioned cliche, “Time is money”.
The majority of printers on the market feature a single printhead for distributing print materials. As technology has developed, the addition of another printhead can pick up the pace on smaller print jobs by making multiple copies of designs in the time it takes to print one. Printers using the 2 printhead design is believed by some to increase print times as fast 3x that of a single printhead. Another way this benefit practically plays out is simply combining several materials and or colors into one object these eliminating additional run times.
Software Development For A More User-Friendly Experience
User interface is make or break when it comes to technology. Complicated items typically bewilder and frustrate. These two adjectives are not want anyone wants their product to be associated with. Thankfully the many entrepreneurs looked at the 3D printing industry and had realization that fantastic hardware needs a complimentary software. In 2016 these great innovations in 3D printing are being complimented with some great options for user-friendly software. To our surprise a good portion of the software is actually free.