So many things have happened in the 3D printing industry over the past several years. It is now playing a key role in the manufacturing ecosystem. It is also pushing the move towards patient-focused care in the healthcare industry. But these business transformations are just the tip of the iceberg. The future is bright for 3D printing. Below are 5 predictions on the innovations and developments that we can expect to see in the future.
Mainstream Solution for Production
A lot of talk about 3D printing has been about how it has revolutionized the design process. It gave birth to rapid prototyping which has made it possible for companies to considerably shorten the time spent on their design process as well as lowered the cost of product testing. But that’s just the beginning.
3D printing can become the go-to technology for full-scale manufacturing. In fact, that trend has already started. When a company is looking to manufacture small batches of a product, 3D printing can make that possible without incurring a large cost. This means that companies will no longer need to keep a large number of parts and/or products in storage. According to a report from MIT, 3D printing has the potential to reduce the spare parts inventory of the automotive industry by 90%. This technology is moving the focus from manufacturing capability to manufacturing capacity.
Art and Fashion
The world of 3D printing is expanding further and further. It is no longer limited to the manufacturing sector. It is now being adopted into the world of art and fashion. Because this technology has become accessible to a lot of consumers, more and more people are able to produce artwork straight from their imagination.
Photo by Pierre Yves
Fashion designers are also taking advantage of the benefits offered by 3D printing. This technology allows them to experiment with different designs, including intricate ones, and a variety of materials. Fashion designers can print fixtures that they can add to clothes or print directly on fabric.
But that’s not all. 3D printing has made personalization possible with fashion. Customized soles in shoes are just one example. Custom-fit clothes, from dresses to swimsuits, are easier to produce because it doesn’t require a lot of labor and money.
Architecture and Construction
Architecture and construction are two other industries that will be radically transformed by 3D printing over the next few years. Creating scale models will be much easier, allowing architects to provide clear visuals of their designs to colleagues and clients. Construction companies can use the same technology to build affordable housing in record time. Fast, efficient development of livable homes can make a huge difference in areas that require temporary housing due to a calamity.
Photo by Fabbaloo
Take note that these two examples are not events that we expect to happen. They are already happening in various parts of the world. The prediction is that 3D printing will become the norm rather than the experiment. It will become the dominant construction method employed in the industry. Not only will it make building structures much faster, but it also costs less and reduces waste. In addition, architects will be able to use this technology to come up with complex structures that are difficult and too costly to build.
Composite 3D Printing
Composite materials are a combination of two or more materials with varying physical and chemical properties. When merged together, the resulting material is stronger and features unique properties. Traditional composite manufacturing can be quite expensive and requires a lot of labor and resources. New parts need to go through a long design cycle. In addition, the production of composite parts isn’t easy to scale.
Composite 3D printing provides companies with a faster and more automated method of creating composite parts which were previously handmade by skilled professionals. It also opens up the possibility of using different materials for certain products, replacing metal with cheaper but durable options. As an added bonus, it reduces the cost of manufacturing composite parts.
Custom 3D printing has already been adopted by the dental industry. It is currently being used to create customized dental aligner molds as well as crowns. But experts predict that its use won’t stop there. They believe that 3D printing will become the leading production technology by 2025. With this technology, dentists can produce custom dental devices at a fast speed and within the confines of their clinic. These devices will feature excellent surface quality and fine detail. Moreover, it lowers the cost of dental prosthetics which will enable more people to afford this kind of service.
Take note that the future of 3D printing is constantly evolving. This is by no means a definitive list of what the future will hold. It is because the opportunities, innovations, and developments that can result from the adoption of this technology seem endless. It’s not a matter of what we can do with 3D printing. It’s a question of what can we NOT do.
Louisa Alen is a content marketing professional and editor creating her successful career past 2 years at D3D Printing. She is a goal-oriented, creative individual with a unique voice in writing, editing, and optimizing content for various projects. She’s a devoted mom and an excellent piano player.
Featured Photo by Tom Claes