The Future of 3D Printing by Scott Fawcett

Scott Fawcett, Managing Director at Essentra Components offers insight into the evolution of 3D printing in the manufacturing sphere within the next 5 years

Now, more than ever, manufacturers are utilising increased connectivity and digitisation in the industry to meet changing demands of customers requiring dynamic and flexible solutions. This industry evolution, more commonly known as Industry 4.0, will shape the future of 3D printing. Industry 4.0 describes the transformation of manufacturing towards a more automated and data driven model, in which 3D printing is a vital building block in the evolutionary process. As the rate of technological advancement increases year on year, and with trends such as personalisation and customisation also on the rise, 3D printing will allow manufacturers to stay ahead of the competition and get products to market faster and cheaper than ever before.

According to a report in i-Scoop, the smart building industry is predicted to be worth over $22bn by 2026. Technology already has a strong presence in the manufacturing industry through the use of data centres, Wi-Fi and smart devices which monitor processes. Every day, we are seeing more and more companies responding to this development and creating smart factories worldwide. German sportswear manufacturer Adidas announced it will be opening a new manufacturing facility bursting with innovative and technologically sophisticated machines, including 3D printers. The factory will rely on 3D printing technology to reduce manufacturing times and production periods, aiming to produce roughly 500,000 pairs of shoes annually, which works out at nearly 1,370 pairs of shoes on a daily basis.

We are also seeing 3D printing software and platforms replacing the traditional process of prototype testing, allowing designers to specify which material is used in certain parts and accurately portray specific measurements.

While 3D printing plays a crucial role in the manufacturing capabilities, most processes still need to be managed closely by humans to avoid any technological error and quality control. By 2018, it’s estimated that 1.3 million industrial robots will be working in factories across the globe, yet, despite this…

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