80 additive manufacturing experts predict the 3D printing trends to watch in 2020

Predicting the future is impossible. But that doesn’t stop us at 3D Printing Industry from inviting CEOs, CTOs and other AM experts to give us 3D printing predictions for 2020.

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Marie Langer, CEO, EOS GmbH

Over the years, additive manufacturing has transitioned from a system and materials to a complete end-to-end solution business. During the same time, we managed to substantially decrease material costs and increase process productivity, as such making AM a key driver of digital manufacturing on a cost-per part level. We will continue to enable accelerated technology qualification and certification procedures to speed up the further industrialization of our technology – all with the aim of upscaling factories to large-scale serial production. Digital AM business models are just beginning to develop – EOS is determined to accompany customers on their way.

Terry Wohlers, Principal Consultant & President, Wohlers Associates, Inc.

We will not see dramatic change in one year. Even so, watch for an even wider choice of new AM machines and materials. Engineering software tools for AM will continue to evolve and improve, especially for the optimization of designs and support material. As with most software, it will take years for much of it to become good. Investments will continue to support the launch of startup companies. Rather than offering a one-size-fits-all product or service, many companies will provide specialized offerings across a range of industrial sectors. 

Arno Held, Chief Venture Officer, AM Ventures

The year 2020 will be a big year of post-processing technologies. Anything that turns a 3D printed part into an end-product will be very much welcomed by experienced users and will continue to boost the number of additively manufactured high volume applications.

On top of this, we are going to see even more new and different hardware concepts surfacing which will enable us to process new ranges of materials that have not been processable before.

Naresh Shanker, Chief Technology Officer, Xerox

The industry is at a critical inflection point — we’ve built these amazing 3D printers that are capable of reliably manufacturing high-volume, end-use parts. To fully realize these capabilities, we need to innovate for adjacent processes while embracing data-driven approaches to ensure consistent, reliable output.

For broad adoption of 3D printing on the factory floor, two things need to happen. First, there will be an increased focus on advancing the infrastructure required to support 3D printing — and by infrastructure, I mean everything beyond the printer that makes additive manufacturing happen: additive design, manufacturing workflow, and new or improved materials.

Second, we’ll see the adoption of “closed-loop” systems, 3D printers with new, sensor-based technologies to ensure repeatability and quality — empowering OEMs to yield parts with certifiable material and dimensional properties.

Vyomesh Joshi, President & CEO, 3D Systems

In 2019, we saw 3D production become a reality. In fact, customers relied on our solutions to create more than 200 million production parts over the course of the year. With the availability of solutions that include materials, hardware and software designed for production applications, I believe the adoption of additive manufacturing to create production parts will continue to grow. We’ve crossed the chasm, and will begin to see more use cases where serial production is ramping up. Increased adoption will continue to be led by core markets such as healthcare, dental and aerospace. In fact, I believe we’ll see an increased number of medical device manufacturers in the coming year integrating metal 3D printing into their manufacturing workflows.

We’ll also see OEMs accelerating innovation in production materials, post-processing and automation to support new applications. I also believe more companies will bring a level of sophistication to how software integrates into their manufacturing workflows. Design, Engineering, Planning, the Shop Floor, and Inspection (QC) will come together into a cloud-based process that harnesses the capabilities of individual platforms to power the entire process.

Bart Van der Schueren, CTO, Materialise

Multinational corporations are becoming increasingly influential, and with that influence comes responsibility. The 3D printing industry is not exempt from this and needs to consider the social and environmental impact of the technology. This means that, as we develop new products and technologies to help our customers create innovative and meaningful applications, sustainability will become top of mind. 3D printing already affords companies with an instrument to manufacture in a more sustainable way — both socially and environmentally. As a result, many view 3D printing as a positive force that helps companies operate more sustainably. But that is simply not enough. Our industry can and needs to do more, by developing new and innovative ways to reduce our impact on the societies we interact with and the environments we operate in. Moving forward, the question is not: is 3D printing a more sustainable manufacturing technology? The question becomes: what can we do to make 3D printing more sustainable?

Jeng-Ywan Jeng, Professor Distinguished Professor of NTUST, Director of NTUST High Speed 3D Printing Research Center

With 3D printing technology becoming more mature than before, many obstacles we faced can be solved, especially for the photo-curing  type of 3D printing. It used to have the problem that the productivity is too low and the cost is too high. And now there’s a new solution that might be able to save wasting time for ensuring the prints can stick to the platform, not the bottom vat. With this breakthrough, LCD 3D printers can be applied in more industries and expand the usage of it. More and more prototype models or even the final products can be printed out with high productivity and efficiency. LCD 3D printer will have a new place in the industry this year. 

Karen Linder, CEO, Tethon 3D

2020 will be the Year of AM Materials. The AM industry will see a wide variety of new material products released. Those that are most successful will be those for which there are specific end use product applications of high value and large market. But even materials that present a solution to an (as yet) unknown problem could have a huge impact on our world once the creative minds of AM users are stimulated by the possibilities.

Jos Burger, CEO, Ultimaker

There is a major opportunity for growth of the industry in 2020. Our index indicated that in the next two years, 25% of businesses surveyed believe that 3D printing will be widely adopted – compared to only 7% today. Across the globe, awareness for the technology is growing and in 2020, we expect more enterprise leaders to put emphasis on bridging the skills gap among employees, and education providers to work to provide students with the necessary skills for future careers in Industry 4.0. 

Nora Toure, Founder, Women in 3D Printing

From my experience with Ivaldi Group, I expect to see a dramatic increase in industrial case studies with new materials. Especially with the cost of metal 3D printing dropping, this will enable industrial adoption in the new year. I expect that in this coming year, there will be more user-cases and proof of concepts, and we will see a shift more towards actual production, including traditional and heavy industries such as oil and gas, mining, and construction. However, I think there will still be a small number of companies ready to implement additive manufacturing into their supply chain commercially in 2020.

There were various interesting acquisitions this year. I think we will see more of these in 2020 as leaders will emerge and shape the industry.

As the founder of Women in 3D Printing, I was very pleased to see 2019 bringing 2 female CEOs into the industry –  EOS’ CEO Marie Langer and Carbon’s CEO Ellen Kullman. We still do not have enough female leaders as for today though, but I am hopeful we’ll see more of them emerge and take on more responsibilities in the coming year.

Zach Simkin, President, Senvol and Chairman, SME Additive Manufacturing Advisory Board

In 2020, I predict that the use of in-situ monitoring data will start to become more prevalent.  We are already starting to see more sensors being deployed within machines, which is great. In 2020, I expect that organizations will start to make better use of the increasing amounts of sensor data to assist in areas such as qualification and certification, quality control, and feedback/feed-forward controls.

I also hope that a common data dictionary for additive manufacturing will be published in 2020. NIST (the National Institute of Standards and Technology), along with Penn State University, are currently leading a very productive and active working group focused on this topic.  It is an area of great need, and one that I hope will see much progress in 2020.

Charles Han, CEO, INTAMSYS

We will see more competition in the coming year as more players will emerge in the industrial 3D printing field. More exciting and promising industrial vertical applications will be explored.

Noritaka Yasuda, CEO, JAMPT Corporation

Pure copper and Tungsten Carbide, generally recognized as Hard-to-print materials, are an emerging market for Metal AM. JAMPT has been printing these materials and getting positive feedback on the build quality of parts from industrial customers. 

Not limited to these specific materials, we see the Japanese market is definitely shifting from prototyping to series production in recent years. Although Japan took rather slower start in industrialization of the AM technology, as the country grew with its “Monozukuri” we see so much potential in upcoming growth of the Japanese AM market. 

We are expecting to accelerate the AM market adoption more in 2020. 

Josef Průša, CEO & Founder, Prusa Research

Doing predictions is always a slippery slope, we all know that after all 640K RAM wasn’t enough for everyone. But I can definitely share the hopes I have.

I certainly hope we and the desktop industry will start to make completely non-technical people feel comfortable with 3D printing. This has been an ongoing theme of the last few years, but I got a feeling it is finally getting there, especially after our extremely successful Original Prusa MINI launch.

I also expect a lot of new materials showing up for both FFF and SLA printers. We certainly have some in the pipeline for 2020.

Jack Chen, CEO, Creality3D

In 2019, Under the background that the international market of 3D printers is monopolized by European and American brands.

Creality had really made a breakthrough and had really promoted the entire 3D printing industry from concept to landing as well as 3D printing applications. 

We assume that 3D printing technology will take a big step and its application will move on more industry, Creality will keep digging out new technology and solutions to adapt to 3D printing with the advantage of R&D, especially customer 3D printer and an industry 3D printer, which enables people to know more about 3D printing technology in 2020.

The trend is that the 3D printing market is indeed full of opportunities and challenges no matter for Creality or other 3D printing brands.

Andrei Vakulenko, Chief Business Development Officer, Artec 3D 

In 2020-2021, AI will make it possible for 3D scanners to recognize and understand geometric shapes and what material a surface is made of. This will make 3D scanning even easier for users, as the device begins to do a lot more than just capture 2D and 3D data. 

With the advancement of user-friendly features in 3D scanners over the last 1-2 years, the expectation for 3D scanning to be as intuitive as taking a video on a cell phone will be higher than ever in 2020. So we will certainly see developments in the industry in this area.

We will also see improved color capture for CGI, AR/VR and e-commerce, since 3D scanning is becoming an increasingly important aspect in these industries, making it faster and easier to make hyper-realistic graphics. 

Janne Pihlajamaki, CEO, miniFactory

We believe that in near future the transition from prototyping to end-user part manufacturing will increase rapidly. This will make the standards, repeatability, and reliability stand out to the spotlight of the decision-makers. Currently, the bottleneck of the industry lays still in the part designing phase. Why? Because the benefits of 3D printing are not properly used in the part designs. Therefore, the optimal use of 3D printed parts is hard to detect.

Our mission is to renew the part manufacturing. We will do this by bringing the intuitive usability of our machine to such a level that the benefits of 3D printing are obvious for everyone. This will make optimal use of 3D printed parts possible. When the amount of 3D printers in use increases, the technology becomes part of common knowledge. This will lead to a situation where the designers, operators and even the end customers know to demand 3D printing as the used method for the end use part manufacturing.

On the view of miniFactory, we can tell that the high-performance polymers are on the spotlight of additive manufacturing at the moment, and for a reason. Most of the high-performance polymers that we provide to our customers can be printed only with FFF-technology, which is known to be clean and easy to use technology. FFF is also a highly cost-effective way to manufacturer parts and it brings savings for the one using it. We believe that this is one of the main reasons why high-performance polymers will keep on booming. 

Edgar Hepp, CEO, Exaddon

We have a very positive outlook for 2020, both for Exaddon as a company, and the AM industry generally.  

Being a one-of-a-kind additive micromanufacturer (µAM) of metal objects, we look back at a great 2019 with fantastic achievements; 40% increase in staffing, doubled our R&D lab bandwidth, exhibited in 11 events across Europe, and published multiple research papers in collaboration with various universities.  

We think 2020 will see a continuation of this positive trend – one which is facilitated by a growing AM industry, and a manufacturing sector which is increasingly receptive to the possibilities that AM brings. 

In 2020 we are expecting a 3x increase in sales revenue, increasing our staffing by 30%-40%, establishing at least four new distributors (countries), and the development of at least one specific, high value, customer application. This shows the health of the µAM industry, and the validity of our technology.  

Thanks to our close relationships with science and research institutes such as ETH Zürich, three publications will be published in Q1 2020, and another five by the end of the year. We will be hosting a Master student to write her thesis, as well as onboarding a PhD student to conduct research into new technologies. 

In parallel, we will be opening the company to external investors to enable the industrialization phase of our technology.   

We will continue with our dual strategy of working closely with science and research institutes on scientific projects, and executing industrialization projects with global industry players. 

More generally, we expect an acceleration of market growth in 2020, especially for the µAM.

Martin Schöppl, Managing Director, Genera

It was very obvious at Formnext that AM will play a major role in future industries. With high speed, this technology enters most industries and so we expect a strong increase during the next years.

Andreas Hartmann, CEO/CTO, Solukon

In 2020 we expect further growth in the demand for parts with high complexity, especially in the aerospace and energy sectors. We also expect other markets will be inspired by the remarkable creativity of new generations of engineers and designers. The flip-side of the equation is that part complexity often means greater challenges in the downstream tasks associated with getting AM parts processed, cleaned and finished. By the end of 2020 we expect to see more progress in the automation of these processes.

Kadine James, Creative Tech Lead, Hobs 3D

We will be launching Hobs Academy in January at our digital factory and immersive studios in London. This collaboration with Ravensbourne University will help to deliver much needed training in 3D skills for the built environment and creative industries and will drive employment opportunities. We need industry and academia to work together to support the next generation of industrial designers and digital leaders, collaboration is going to be central to delivering the Industrial Strategy for the UK and to driving the economy.

Filemon Schöffer, CCO, 3D Hubs

I think we’ll see the adoption rate of 3D printing keep accelerating. Increasingly, more small to medium-sized businesses are making the most of the prototyping speed and geometric complexities 3D printing provides, as the technology becomes ever more accessible. Alongside this growing demand for 3D printed parts, virtually unlimited 3D printing capacity is available via online services, like 3D Hubs, as well as other manufacturing platforms. This provides SMBs with access to competitive supply, increasing product development speed, shortening their time-to-market.

Dr. Kaj Führer, CEO, enter2net

Additive manufacturing is becoming an integral part of the value chain in manufacturing companies. Due to the continuous improvement of machines and materials as well as innovation leaps in new 3D printing technologies, more and more applications are cost-effective using additive manufacturing. All these topics require a process-related design of AM value-added processes and CAD data streams as well as the implementation of suitable software solutions. In addition to automation on the shop floor, automation using software for DfAM-compliant design, automated print job preparation and integration into ERP systems will become increasingly important in 2020. In pre-processing, solutions for automated topology optimization, optimal positioning including support generation or batch nesting of large quantities of components will lead to cost reductions and will improve the quality of 3D printed components. 

Ric Fulop, CEO and co-founder, Desktop Metal

Prediction: The next frontier for additive will be in functional end-use applications and mass production. There is a long arc in the evolution of the additive manufacturing industry and I’m excited that we are able to do things now that people haven’t been able to do before. The 3D printing industry has been around for more than 20 years and it’s come into the prototyping and jigs and fixtures space with strong penetration. But, we haven’t even scratched the surface. I’m particularly excited about the next frontier of additive. Over the next year and into the coming decade, I’m expecting to see growth from this sub-segment of jigs and fixtures and early use cases to mass production,spare parts and functional end-use applications for components that were traditionally made with other manufacturing techniques. The industry is now mature enough that we can design machines that actually leverage these technologies into the products that people use every day.

Prediction: 95-99% of manufacturing spend will move to functional end-use parts. Manufacturing is value at scale. You’ve seen the first wave of 3D printing technology adoption primarily in the design validation, prototyping, jigs and fixtures, making the factory more productive and some tooling applications. And if you look at the total manufacturing spend today, less than 5% is in prototyping, product development, or in tooling, and so that’s where AM has played to-date. In this next decade for 3D printing, we are entering an exponential curve because the technology is more affordable, there are more use cases and more supply of raw materials that opens up the application space. This enables this new market, which is going from that early component now to end-use parts and spare parts. Now, 95-99% of the spend will go into making the parts you want to make.

Hope: AM will accelerate a greater freedom of product design. One of the things that’s unique about additive manufacturing (AM) is that it frees you from the tyranny of tooling. Tooling has been great because it lowers your per piece part cost, but gives you a big upfront cost and limits what your product can do in terms of freedom of design. The great thing about AM is that we are now starting to do design that is physics- or math-driven. Now you can actually achieve the shape that you wanted, lightweight it to get the performance you need and, with the latest design tools like generative design, you can really do incredible things. It is my hope that when people look back on the 4th Industrial Revolution 50 years from now, they are going to be talking less about the Internet of Things (IoT) and more about how we removed 30-50% of material that we had in automobiles and how everything has become more efficient.

Tessa Blokland, co-founder, LEO Lane

In 2020 and the decade it kicks off, collaboration among ecosystem partners will be crucial. At LEO Lane we value easy integration and playing well with others, we hope this approach will become prevalent in the coming year and even more in the coming decade. Another prediction of ours is that repeatability and consistency will become prevalent as there is no industrial manufacturing without it. Finally, I think in 2020 tooling (jigs and fixtures) will continue to be a leading AM application but also a gateway to other applications in the organization (e.g., spare parts). 

Kris Binon, Director, Flam3D

2020 will prove to be a turbulent year. Many companies will be reconsidering their position, strategies will be altered. As a result, there will be a number of new alliances, mergers and takeovers. Some non-profitable businesses will cease to exist. Truly “new” technology releases will be limited, yet innovations in software (including Deep Learning/AI) and materials will continue to flourish. We’ll see a battle for market share, and simultaneously we’ll see a growing market. Another emerging trend will be the development of product-specific AM-platforms/machines. 

Harry Schmid, founder and Managing Director, Gramm

In 2020 I hope to see a merger of the Reprap movement together with industrial 3D printing. The ecosystem surrounding Reprap printers is vastly more powerful than any ecosystem for industrial 3D printers. Metal powder bed fusion printers often do not have open interfaces, or open standards for their job files. This hampers innovation and collaboration. Systems manufacturers need to open the interfaces for their machines, while platform operators and software developers need to support as many machines, materials and auxiliary services as possible.

While the standardization and increased focus on quality of the industry is welcome, users and providers must not sacrifice variety for it. Quality is of course easier, the fewer the variables in the production process. It is hovever the abundance of options that makes 3D printing attractive and useful. If we only focus on standardization, 3D printing is going to end up as a slightly worse version of injection molding. Instead we must embrace variety, and include it in our process model. It is 3D printing’s greatest advantage.

Jordi Drieman, 3D Application Specialist, Mimaki

Predictions are hard to give — for me it’s more a combination of predictions and hopes. The capabilities of 3D printing are almost endless. I think it’s now the time to bring this technology to a wider audience, for example, by introducing CG designers to the world of 3D printing. Hopefully, in the coming year, the software used for CG designs will be increasingly integrated with 3D printing to help lower the learning curve.

Philipp Schlautmann, Executive Director, 3D-figo

We expect to see a huge rush of new opportunities with the FFD process. We have an extremely wide range of materials at our disposal. TPU with 5 shore is the softest material and Al2O3 is the hardest material that can be processed on our FFD printers. Also, the possibility to alternate plastic, ceramic and metal on the same machine or to print simultaneously is very appreciated by our customers and opens new markets for 3d-figo.

We have many interesting inquiries also for multi-material printing. With our machines, plastics can be combined with other plastics but also ceramics with other ceramics, metals with other metals or even ceramics with metals. The first ceramic components with an integrated conductor already exist and the development continues.

With these new possibilities, we expect sales growth of over 30% in 2020. 

Stephan Kühr, CEO, 3YOURMIND

Our focus for 2020 will be automatic part identification and tracking mass-production applications with software. Our customers have found and executed amazing parts in 2019 and we know that many awesome applications (both small and large-series) will go public this year!

Sasha Long, VP Engineering and Sales, Arcast Inc.

We produce equipment for producing metal powder and we also offer a toll service for producing powder. We work with almost all of the industry leaders and research groups around the world. We are seeing rapid growth and investment in the North American market. There is a significant investment being made by major research labs and universities for the production of metal powder. We see the majority of investment into powder from new or developing alloys. It appears that there is a large amount of work to be done to customize alloys to give the same or better properties with AM/PM parts as is seen in forged of cast parts. Western Europe has invested in this area about 3-5 years earlier but now seems to be slowing down in the amount of investment in this area. By contrast, the USA and Canadian markets were slow to get going. We are now seeing extreme growth and investment from Russia and Turkey, with Eastern Europe and places like Egypt growing as well.

There is a steady growth in large scale production of standard alloy powder markets for 3D printing in the USA, Canada, UK, and Scandinavia. However, we don’t believe that conventional alloys will be where the powder supply ends up, based on the research trends and the problems that need to be solved. Arcast is focused on providing solutions for new material development and production. History has shown that each application in metallurgy requires different alloys to maximize the performance from the form and production method of each metal product. Powder for AM is no different.   

Years ago we would have sold 1-3 atomizers for producing powder a year. Now we are selling 10 or more a year. We don’t see these numbers dropping any time soon. These systems range from 100s of grams to 1000 kg of production per batch. I expect these systems to be continuous or multi-ton capacity in the next few years. 

A challenge that is coming out of the market is waste or out of specification powder either from the atomizing/spheroidizing process or from the printing process. Many users and producers are facing large amounts of waste powder with no clear answer for what to do with it? We have and are developing ways to reprocess this powder back into bar or in Spec powder. This is a key part of the metal/powder cycle to keep AM/3D printing as efficient as possible.

Wojciech Gaweł, CTO & managing partner, Sonda SYS

Our main product is an SLS printer so we are mostly interested in SLS technology. In 2020, as the industry, we should focus on developing high-temperature 3DP materials and printing processes. I’m quite sure that most producers see this growing consumer and user need, especially (but not only) if we talk about automotive and aerospace industries. In my honest opinion even though high-temperature 3DP is becoming to be more often in many brands offer – there is still much to do when speaking about practical uses and application.

The other direction we should focus on is device customization. Today when clients have some needs or need 3DP device that is different from the standard that producers offer – they need to pay extra. And this “extra” price is most frequently about 50% higher than regular. So we, as the producers, have to rethink the machines building process in the way with will allow building our 3D printers taking into account the non-standard needs of customers and at the same time at the price at which they will be able to pay. The other way, which is our way, is to develop devices that can be upgraded in the future at fully acceptable costs. Literally – when the client’s business will grow and brings money for such upgrade or when the 3DP production/ manufacturing needs will change.

Lasse G. Staal, CEO, AddiFab

In 2020, printed tooling (that allows combinations of AM and conventional manufacturing) will be gaining in importance. Especially printed soft tooling – pursued by players like AddiFab, Fortify and Stratasys, but metal AM will continue building traction in the injection molding industry. 

By combining AM and IM, manufacturers achieve seamless scalability from prototyping to production. Manufacturers may use printed soft tooling for early prototypes, and migrate into printed metal tooling as volumes climb. They will not have to use specialized (3D-printable) versions of their existing materials for the prototyping stage, and they may use their conventional injection molding machines.

Dror Danai, CBO, XJet

We shall continue to see more adoption of metal and ceramic AM in 2020. I hope that the industry shall mature, and instead of only looking into replacing mass production technologies and increasing speeds, it will understand that 3D printing/AM has the potential to change products and allow short runs of things that were impossible before. 

Mateusz Sidorowicz, Marketing Director, 3DGence

From a business point of view, I believe that 2020 will be the year of acquisitions. The 3D printing industry is becoming much more mature and there are too many players in some fields, big players are looking to grow (also through acquisitions) and it will only speed up this process. This will force some companies to withdraw from the 3D printing sector or to change their business model. Business-wise it will be a very interesting year, with not a lot of new players.

There are going to be significant changes in the application field of 3D printing. Medical applications are getting more accessible, many companies went through the technology learning process and now are integrating different 3D printing technologies in their production process. All 3D printing technologies are more reliable, faster, has a wider material portfolio and are much more economically justified. We are observing that many of our customers are looking into 3D printing to cut costs. Either it’s money or time. There are signs on the global market that the slow-down is coming, any piece of equipment that may shorten the road to market and will reduce spending is going to be very interesting for companies.

In FFF main developments are going to be on materials and making the process whole. There will be more applications for speciality filaments like ceramics also high-performance materials (PAEK’s, PEI) and engineering materials (PC, PA, filled materials) segments are going to grow significantly. The manufactures will have to deliver a complete solution, from materials that are dedicated to industrial applications to the post-processing that will result in end-part that meets the customer requirements.

The legislation will happen in 3D printing, right now there are only a few international standards for 3D printers. We will see much more companies concerned about safety. Especially in industrial 3D printers (from FFF to DMLS) 3D printers are going to be a  “standard” equipment that will need to follow regulations.

Right now we are on the verge of huge change. 3D printers won’t be in every home but they will be in every company that is looking to optimise their production processes. It will be a standard for RnD, maintenance, tooling and production departments. The biggest challenge will be to meet the customer requirements and add 3D printing to his process.

Lorenzo Sebastianelli, Sales Manager, 3DPRN

3D printing is growing exponentially from year to year: new materials, new printers, new format (especially large format). We believe that in 2020, we will have the umpteenth confirmation that 3D printing will be introduced in the companies for the production of finished products,  flanking/replacing the traditional production processes. 3DPRN has a very interesting project in 2020 in the development of 3D printers, joining more printers, we will obtain very interesting dimensions up to a size of 6000 mm.

Björn Ullmann, CEO, One Click Metal

We already saw a wider adoption of AM in 2019: More use cases but also more suppliers.There were a lot more suppliers not just for printers but rather along the process chain. There are more suppliers for data preparation software but also for post processing and part finishing. This is an important step as it shows that people start to think how they actually get to an end use part. Many of these new players try to simplify the complexity of the value chain that comes with the different additive manufacturing methods and I believe this will be something we will see more and more in 2020: AM will become more mainstream, more accessible and easier to use.

Johannes von Borries, Managing Partner, UVC Partners

2020 will be the year to take very specific 3D printing applications to the mass market. This can be in very diverse fields of applications like cosmetics, medical, or aerospace and it will be driven by functionality and not cost.

Johannes Rahn, Technical Sales, SCANLAB GmbH

For 2020, we expect a stable share of the additive manufacturing (AM) market in terms of production technologies. The focus will be on improved machines and machine design advancements to broaden adaption of AM for various applications. Overall, we expect increasingly intensified collaboration throughout the whole supply chain, from component suppliers and machine integrators all the way to the involvement of different industrial customers.

Rafał Tomasiak, CEO, co-founder, Zortrax

2020 is going to be an exciting year for the AM industry. We’re going to see an increasing shift towards integrating 3D printing technologies in workflows functioning across multiple fields like medicine, lean manufacturing, and aerospace, to name just a few. With this increasing integration, we expect 3D printers and auxiliary devices supporting the 3D printing process to get even more reliable and versatile. Particularly, we hope to see a variety of promising capabilities emerge in the dual-extrusion technology in extrusion-based machines. There are countless new materials with amazing properties currently under development in laboratories around the world. And advantages those materials grant to customers are going to be multiplied by pairing them in dual-extrusion machines. This way, 3D printers are going to be capable of fabricating functional microwave antennas or servomechanisms triggered by electric current in one go. As to the resin-based 3D printers operating by solidifying polymers with light, they are most likely get bigger offering more workspace without sacrificing any of their precision and speed. This, coupled with the emergence of new engineering and biocompatible resins, should leave us with a wide variety of capable AM technologies to choose from by the end of 2020. 

Josef Dolecek,  CEO & Founder, Fillamentum

All of us – AM professionals, no matter from which kind of AM technology, were recently witnesses of the massive adoption of AM into industry, which is a clear sign that AM is a reliable and functional tool for professional use. Companies found that they are able to achieve huge savings due to faster, very often in-site Printing. This goes hand-in-hand with continuously improving the complex environment – 3D printer, software, and materials. For Fillamentum, as a material developer and manufacturer the introduction of new materials, with different material properties, following specific requirements from industrial customers, is important. 

From our point of view, there are two points characterizing the year 2020 in AM: new materials and partnership among material companies and printer manufacturers.

Jeff Mize, CEO, PostProcess Technologies, Inc

In 2020 we expect to see an accelerated need for scalable solutions. Prototype volumes should continue to grow from thousands per year to hundreds of thousands per year, particularly in companies that rely on fast innovation to drive growth. We also expect the number of companies considering additive manufacturing for low volume production to increase.  As such, the industry must move beyond brute-forcing post-printing with manual labor and traditional mechanical solutions towards software-based automated solutions to ensure throughput and consistency in line with the market’s expectations.

Peter Rogers, APAC Product Specialist – Additive Manufacturing, Autodesk

I feel that there will be more focus on multi-material applications in R&D, and companies will start transitioning more to production for plastic and metal parts. A few key manufacturers are getting close to achieving certification on critical parts, and this will act as a catalyst for the growth of AM into the next decade. 

Lee Kwang Min, Vice President, Carima

This year will be a full-scale Digital Dentistry year. The emergence of a variety of 3D scanning solutions with an affordable price range, which have been an obstacle to the spread of Digital Dentistry, will replace the milling machines in the market, and furthermore, it accelerates the rapid adoption of 3D printers, which have already been introduced.

In addition, collaborated marketing will emerge from individual unit (Manufacturers of 3D printer, software scanners and etc.) to solution-oriented integration (one-stop solution) to facilitate the enlightenment, accessibility, and utilization of Digital Dentistry in front-line hospitals. 

Hospitals, which adopt these Digital Dentistry solutions, will help patients with faster treatment (one-hour/one-day), and with the solutions, the hospital management will be better. These solutions will quickly become a new change in the market.

Shon Anderson, CEO, B9Creations

That the industry would shift from pushing technology on customers to providing production solutions.

Rachel Hunt, 3D Printing Marketing Product Manager, Protolabs

In 2020, expect to see the 3D printing industry in a state of continued growth as adoption and accessibility to additive manufacturing scale. Industries are more knowledgeable than ever before as they utilize additive design and manufacturing to gain economic advantages. Machine advancements will continue set pace with development taking place around automated post-processing, in-situ quality monitoring, and faster build rates. Material advancements will continue to be fast-paced in 2020. Expect to see more advanced materials that can meet or exceed certain properties of traditionally manufactured metals and plastics.  

Chuck Pfeffer, Director, Product Management, FARO Technologies

Where historically a 3D printed product has been relegated to prototyping or printing non-production material, 3D printers are evolving to support the full production of parts and tools. With that evolution, we will see a higher level of required quality control in the 3D printing process to ensure a commercially useful product.

With 3D printers being used for production material, it’s important that whatever is sent to a finishing process (such as sanding, polishing or machining) isn’t out-of-tolerance. This will make establishing a quality control feedback process that covers the whole 3D printed production chain even more critical and we’ll see that develop more in 2020.

Richard Gaigon, CEO, 3DCeram

We are firmly convinced 3D printing will evolve to become a fully-fledged production tool able to take up the challenge of mass customization in opposition to mass production. Our objective today is to strengthen 3DCeram’s position as a lead engineering company in additive manufacturing for high technology markets with high growth potential. We have learned lessons and built up our knowledge to work on the maturation of the technology to answer industrial needs: a so-called mass production method which should be also flexible, otherwise known as customization. That’s why we have developed the C3600 ULTIMATE to answer industrialization requirements in 3D printing technical ceramics. We study the ROI needs, a key indicator in production tool investments. So we have been able to put to the test the viability of mass production with additive manufacturing, it works. Concentrating on environmental issues, to produce the right quantity of parts with little or no waste, it is heading in the right direction as a relevant prototyping process that doesn’t involve any tooling. It will decrease the need for expensive stocking of multiple parts, enhancing the JIT system and custom part production process, in short, we are experiencing a revolution and it’s happening now…Our prediction is that the 3D printing will successfully pass the test steps to reach the production stage, especially in pioneer industries like biomedical and aerospace. 

François Leclerc, Marketing Program Manager, Creaform

As the industry has relied on rapid prototyping in the past decade, it will now focus on rapid manufacturing. Indeed, the industry is asking for mass production using the additive method, also known as 3D printing.

Additive manufacturing will compete on the production of parts made with plastic injection. Producing parts by plastic injection is certainly low cost, but the cost of the mold is important and must be amortized, in addition to its significant lead time. However, with a rapid manufacturing machine, production is made without the need for a mold, directly and without delay. For small batches of parts specifically, investment and amortization of the mold is no longer required. Since it is significantly more economical, rapid manufacturing is expected to gain even more in proportion for the production of small batches of parts.

This is the bet that big players of the industry make in the short term because they want to distinguish themselves for the long term.

Blake Teipel, CEO and Co-founder, Essentium

In 2020 we will see industrial-scale 3D printing move into the manufacturing mainstream in a big way. The promise of additive manufacturing (AM) has always been tremendous – but held back by unappealing economics, limitations in materials and production, and an inability to scale. The latest 3D/AM printing platform innovations including hardware, software and materials are coming together to help companies manufacture in new ways – while removing all the historical barriers.  2020 will mark the year that additive at scale transforms manufacturing across sectors including aerospace, automotive, electronics manufacturing services and biomedical. The shift is already underway – new research commissioned by Essentium shows that two-thirds of companies reported they have more than doubled their use of industrial-scale AM over the past 12 months.

Simon Mawson, Global Head of 3D Printing, Henkel

In 2020, we expect more industries to adopt Additive Manufacturing technologies within their production. As material companies will further improve the breath and depths of their product offerings by collaborating with printer companies in open ecosystem platforms, 3D printing will enable more applications for final parts. Especially medical and dental applications will continue to scale thanks to digital workflows and gain acceptance in compliance with regulations. In addition, injection molding tooling in will be proven and tested with difficult to process composite Nylons for example with quality of parts matching metal tooling. 

Dayton T. Horvath, Principal, NewCap Partners

The industry will continue to grow despite limitations and inefficiencies in software, hardware, and materials but not at the rate most analysts and investors predict or hope for. Partnerships will become even more solidified across the value chain and M&A will start to increase as large corporations involved in additive carry out their strategies in earnest. Truth remains with the applications that are being found in tooling, and to a lesser extent, in production parts. 

Marco Bauer, CEO, BAM GmbH

With regard to 3D printing of metal, I expect new technologies that will work faster and provide better handling, with reduced peripherals.

Christian Seidel, Head of Additive Manufacturing, Fraunhofer IGCV

In 2020, the AM industry will continue to grow. However, it is expected that the annual growth rate will be below the average of the last 3 years, maybe around 15%. Growth can be expected across material classes (metal, polymer etc.) and process categories (cf. ISO/ASTM 52900).

Manuel Kolb, Commercial Director Additive Manufacturing, Weber Additive

In 2020 we see 3D-printing still as an area with great potential for the future and view a great market regarding this. As it is the most important fact for us to offer the best possible products to our customers and constantly improve our quality, there are a lot of technical developments we want to forge ahead with. Furthermore, we aim to develop the industrial print in the plastics sector. Especially in the field of the plastics industry it is necessary to go the next steps to industrial applications, like it was done in the metal 3D-printing in the last years. Therefore, 2020 can be an essential year.

Specifically, we see additive manufacturing, in particular through direct processing of pellets instead of filament, as a step in this direction. Together with our partners we will be able to improve our technical performance as well as the quality even further in the future.

Avi Reichental, Founder and CEO, XponentialWorks

I believe that in 2020 the 3D printing industry will come together to demonstrate convincingly that additive manufacturing is the most sustainable manufacturing technology available.

Rush LaSelle, Senior Director, Additive Manufacturing, Jabil

From a manufacturing standpoint, we see new and impactful solutions in the areas of pre- and post-processing, which are helping additive land on more factory floors with lower total lifecycle costs.  Meanwhile, an expanding portfolio of print platforms and materials solutions are empowering product designers and engineers to realize the promise of additive.

In 2020, we expect continued market fluctuation with assets migrating to sectors demonstrating profitable business cases.  Currently, medical and aerospace monopolize the conversations around scaled production and we’ve observed steady growth of sound business cases. We predicted consolidation in various areas of the market last year, and while there wasn’t as much as anticipated, there’s an expectation that continued market consolidation will be a near-term dynamic necessary for the health of the industry.

While interest and awareness of digital continues to grow, levels of adoption lag the levels necessary to achieve many of the efficiencies afforded by a network demonstrating critical mass. As manufacturers continue to load their capacity and increase the number of machines on their networks in 2020, more applications will find their way from concept to production as economics achieve the needs of mid-volume manufacturing.

François Minec, Managing Director, BASF 3D Printing Solutions GmbH

Over the last years, 3D printing has been growing at a steady rate of about 25 percent per year. A growth rate many industries envy us for. However, the market size is still relatively small. If you put it in perspective, it represents less than 0,1 percent of the total manufacturing market. 

The reason for this is that in most cases 3D printing is still only used for prototypes, small series and jigs/fixtures. I’m expecting 2020 to show production for more and more industries.

This adoption is driven by increased productivity and consistency of 3D printing equipment, automatization of post-processing as well as the introduction of competitive raw material solutions to a greater extent. 

Our goal for the additive manufacturing industry is to become a mainstream industry with applications not only for prototypes and small series but also for megatrends such as personalization and faster fashion changes which can be enabled through 3D printing. Our new BASF brand „Forward AM“ reflects our ambition to support the growth and industrialization of additive manufacturing. It is BASF´s intention to be the supplier of choice in this growing field. 

Kristin Mulherin, President, AM-Cubed

This year is going to be all about software and the digital thread. Mass customization, workflow monitoring, and improvement, advanced DfAM and DFM, distributed manufacturing… the list is long. But all will require significant advances in software and there are a lot of exciting start-ups emerging to address this. 

Standards development should also begin to accelerate, across all material groups, but especially metal AM. Fortunately, it looks like the industry is poised to properly address this now that we’re seeing so many instances of collaboration, even between so-called competitors.

Neil Hopkinson, Director of Technology, Xaar 3D Ltd.

Despite some softening due to global economic factors, I expect 2020 to deliver another year of comfortable double-digit growth of the Additive Manufacturing industry.  New applications in higher volume production will emerge and use cases that would previously have been considered extremely exciting, will become increasingly, but pleasingly, run of the mill.

Sascha F. Wenzler, Vice President, Formnext

In the field of industrial use of Additive Manufacturing (AM), it is no longer a question for me whether the path towards series production is the right one, but only with what speed, what technology and to what extent. More and more applications in series production prove this from very different user industries and using different AM technologies. Trend researchers and consulting companies confirm the further upward trend for the coming years. The entire production process, its stability, control and seamless monitoring are crucial. The necessary international standards and norms are also a prerequisite. And not to forget continuous automation across all process steps, including pre- and post-processing. There is still a lot of potential to be tapped, for example, from hybrid production using the advantages of different technologies and materials. And in my opinion, AM in particular offers great opportunities to answer essential questions about sustainability, recycling and resource conservation in industrial manufacturing. AM remains a “life changing technology” and with Formnext we are pleased to be part of this path and to help shape it.

Hakan Güzelgöz, CEO & Co-founder, 3bfab

The industry will continue to grow into vertical applications and mass manufacturing where 3d printers are essential to be competitive. At Novafab, we manufacture resin photopolymers and 3D printers for the specific use of jewelry and dental industries. 

In 2020, jewelry manufacturers will increase the use of 3d printers in their manufacturing process from 3d designing to casting the finished jewelry items. Competition, high gold prices, lower margin pressures and manufacturing speed requirements will be the driving forces behind the use of resin 3d printers. We have already seen a radical shift in the use of castable resins instead of wax molding and this growth shall speed up in 2020.

In the dental industry, automation and end-to-end digitalization linking patients, dentists and dental laboratories will continue to grow in 2020. Providers will offer faster and better solutions however execution and know-how transfer are key in order to successfully service this industry. Seamless workflow between 3d scanners, CAD software, materials and 3d printers will provide higher quality and cheaper services for patients and dental professionals.

Harshil Goel, CEO & founder, Dyndrite

I’m biased, but I believe 2020 will be remembered as a turning point in additive manufacturing, where both technicians and OEMs gain more power, freedom, and control over the production process and the software that drives it. 

Stefan Leonhardt, co-founder and managing partner, Kumovis

We expect 2020 to be the turning point in taking the next steps towards new applications and products, especially with regard to polymer-based AM processes in advanced industries such as medical technology. A lot is likely to happen here, for example in the field of resorbable implants. We also assume that companies operating in regulated markets will set process monitoring as top priority when it comes to bringing new and reimagined products to market.

Mehmet Erkan Ustaoğlu, CEO, Teknodizayn and Loop 3D

It is fascinating to see the current trends going strongly towards the industrial processes and supplying the best solutions for industrial companies. I think that every year more companies decide to include 3D printing in their processes and it already became common for the companies to consider 3D printing solutions in planning the manufacturing processes. 

Alex Kingsbury, Managing Director, Additive Economics, Additive Manufacturing Industry Fellow, RMIT University

We have seen and will continue to see a proliferation of suppliers in the market. Some companies, but certainly not all, will have something genuinely innovative to offer. This will be driven in part by an increasing diversity in AM – different modalities and feedstocks that give rise to differentiated cost paradigms. The currency (pardon the pun) will be in getting the price point right and clearly articulating a value proposition. A healthy marketing budget will be necessary to get messages out there – a bit unfortunate as this directs funds away from technical development. Expect 2020 to be loud!

Keyvan Karimi, CEO, AMFG

We predict that the AM industry will continue its growth trajectory in 2020, as more companies continue to invest in the potential of 3D printing. We will see new applications of the technology, driven by the desire for high-volume, serial production with additive. Furthermore, as topics like scalability, repeatability and connectivity become key talking points within the industry, we’re also excited about the growing importance of MES software in helping to address these issues. In this regard, 2020 will see MES software solutions evolve to enable companies to scale their AM operations and establish greater automation and visibility across their processes. 

Sylvia Goldbach, Managing Director & Design, Taktilesdesign GmbH

Further recognition of the use of textures as a tool for improved surfaces and added functional value. Establishing expertise at different levels with partnerships between big and smaller players for deep detail and content. “Bring 3D printed products to consumers.” A less science-fiction-image would help to establish the technology I think.

Training for companies and students to enter 3D printing will and must still be given – people have to experience the technology.  More software solutions with custom- & production-friendly interfaces in a basic & expert level. Discussions about processes to avoid the emission of CO2 grow in strength.

Sven Hicken, Head of Additive Manufacturing Business Unit, Oerlikon AM

In 2020 we expect to see more companies adopting additive in their production designs.  Medical, aerospace and automotive are leading the way. We anticipate post-processing improvements and developments in surface quality that will be cost drivers. We expect more collaboration on materials development and the prospect of offering new materials across the industry. 

Sylvia Monsheimer, Head of New 3D Technologies, Evonik 

On the one hand, I expect the overall situation in the industry to become more difficult than in previous years which will lead the market growth to slow down. On the other hand, difficult situations open up new opportunities for a disruptive change. That means the willingness to switch from conventional production methods to AM can increase – and the resources might be available as well to make it possible. 

I am quite sure that later this year we will see some first new and exciting series applications – I mean full production halls with running AM machines on that point. I personally expect medical and lifestyle to be the first markets for such developments. 

With respect to the materials side, I see interesting new materials on the horizon which might disclose new application fields for series production.

Luke Winston, Chief Business Officer, Formlabs

2020 marks a new phase in the industry. First, thanks to affordable printers from companies like Formlabs, this year will see more professionals than ever before get their hands on 3D printing. It is no longer extraordinary to have personal access to a printer. Second, these users are more educated and discerning, making them demand higher performance and professional support while expecting affordable prices. Companies that deliver on this will thrive while we continue to see consolidation, particularly in the prosumer space.

Basically this means we will have many more capable users getting their hands on high performance equipment. And, with lower prices of hardware and materials, the cost of experimentation drops dramatically. Which means that in 2020 we will see even more innovators like New Balance and Gillette embracing printers like the Form 3 to blaze trails to true mass customization. 

Chengxi Wang, CEO, MyMiniFactory

In 2020, as the quality of consumer 3D printers increases and price becomes more affordable, consumer 3D printers will reach more households. People who used to be outside the 3D printing industry will start to print at home certain objects for actual usage, rather than just as a hobby. In this context, the demand for high-quality 3D printable content will not only increase rapidly, but also become more specific. For example, certain categories of objects will make more sense to be 3D printed at home than bought from stores, due to the lower printing cost and more choices of creative 3D printable designs in the content platforms. 

Andy Langfeld, President, Stratasys EMEA

I think that we can expect to see AM grow in industries in which its use has been less prevalent than some other sectors. For example, within rail or consumer electronics, we are still pushing boundaries when it comes to solving challenging application requirements for customers. I expect to see further application areas open up these customers continue to witness efficiencies across the manufacturing and supply chain via AM technology.

Felix Ewald, CEO & co-founder, DyeMansion

Both my prediction and hope for 2020 is that the major material suppliers will further invest in 3D-printing to raise the variety of materials. Why? AM users will call for more available materials for their specific needs and also for a more active participation of the material suppliers within their manufacturing projects. An advanced material variety is a key accelerator for our industry. We see that trend already today and aim to find the right finish for every end-use application out there. 

Thomas Reiher, Director Generative Design, Simufact / Hexagon

3D printing is evolving and becomes more mature so that we will see many more serial applications from different industries. I think it is the time that the gained experiences are poured into successful and economic end parts, pushed by software solutions dedicated to AM technology and securing robust designs and processes. The ease of software like MSC Apex Generative Design lowers the entry barrier a lot through the fast creation of designs tailored for AM production.

Tim Ruffner, Vice President Enterprise Solutions, Dynamism

Some of my predictions for the AM industry for 2020 are to get closer to production on systems, both in metals and polymers. We are very close to this and I have seen a lot over the past 15 years. I am blessed to have learned from some amazing industry leaders and look to be a mentor moving forward as others were for me. I do hope that there will be easier ways to get education in one spot. We have such an amazing community and when we are all doing well with 3D Printing, then we are growing the industry together as a team.  I hope that this year we can use this community to come together and educate more.

Stephan Thomas, Co-founder, Chief Strategy Officer, Identify3D

The year may be “2020” but everyone’s vision for the additive manufacturing industry may not be. New entrants from established companies following the path created by HP, Xerox, Canon, etc can easily turn the always evolving industry on its side and enable an explosion for demand.  However, the reality most likely will be steady progress in all aspects of the industry. Our prediction is that industrial AM will capture the most attention and the focus will be on supply chain integration. Software will start to take center stage as the importance of automation and communication with machines are the next links to enable true end to end connectivity.  

Matthias Schmidt-Lehr, Managing Partner, Ampower

In 2020 we expect for users to overcome the current qualification barriers which might lead to an increase in machine sales again compared to the slow year in 2019. While LB-PBF suppliers will continue to improve their systems, we hope for many startups in a range of new AM technologies to make their breakthrough in 2020. Companies like Headmade Materials, AIM3D or Digital Alloys are aiming for their well-deserved market shares.

Isupov Andrey, CEO, Picaso3D

3D printing technology has made a full cycle and from a technological wonder it is becoming a commodity manufacturing technology – a tool to fulfill a business need. This naturally leads to process automation and higher demand for a predictable result. So a 3D printer in 2020 is first of all a daily tool which offers a highly repeatable work cycle and easy (or none at all) maintenance at a low total cost of ownership.

Marco Schmid, CEO, Coobx

2020 will be the year, where AM gets traction and come away from a niche player behavior to a respected production method. The level of competence for AM technologies is steadily increasing, together with process competence and material science Additive Manufacturing now changes to production quantities. All necessary parameters like machines, process technology, product development and materials are set. Together with our customers and material partners we scale AM up.

Matt Gannon, VP of operations, Markforged

In 2020, 3D printing will continue to permeate the entire factory, evolving from fixtures and tooling to end-use parts. Now that manufacturers have begun to understand how 3D printing works, invested in printers and introduced 3D printed parts to their supply chain, they’ll continue to realize the value it can bring to their other various processes. We’ve just begun to scratch the surface of additive’s applications and the industry is sure to realize further uses for the technology—especially as we start to see 3D printed parts pass the industry’s most stringent quality and durability certification standards.

When end-use parts require low-volume production, customization or involve high geometric complexity, 3D printing can be a great tool. For custom components, 3D printing can slash months off of production lead times and massively decrease overhead costs. It can also allow you to skip the tooling development portion of product development when printing production parts, significantly reducing iteration time and the wait between final design and the final product.

As the technology matures—through more precise printing technology, and new materials—and leveraging additive becomes more natural as younger engineers already accustomed to the technology join the workforce, we’ll see innovation flourish. Even we don’t know where this technology is going to go – from CE-Certified lifting tools to end-use electronics housings – our customers are always surprising us with novel use cases.

Vishal Singh, Co-Founder & CTO, Link3D

In 2020, the AM industry will move towards “Data Standardization” of hardware and software ecosystems. We expect currently siloed software solutions (e.g., CAD, PLM, ERP, Build Prep, MES) to be inter-connected using open protocols and API’s. This will enable the creation of a unified data layer and improving manufacturing operations as well as quality management.

To add, we predict “Quality Management Systems” designed for additive manufacturing, will also become a critical component for end-to-end traceability, for example: integrated macro and micro monitoring, such as in-situ monitoring of machines and its connectivity with MES & QMS software; capturing quality data across downstream manufacturing processes (i.e.: post-processing equipment and QC instruments) must build a comprehensive data trail for part traceability. By capturing the Digital Twin and enabling tighter feedback loops, organizations will produce advanced applications and effective production workflows at an increasing rate.  

Kevin Han, CEO & Co-Founder, AON3D

The path to widespread AM adoption requires a full ecosystem of products and solutions covering not only the printing process, but part design, material selection, simulation, process monitoring, post-processing, final inspection, traceability, etc. Different applications & industries require specific workflows to be developed to meet their requirements and both customers & vendors are beginning to realize this fact. Many of the discrete elements required to build these workflows are starting to come to market, and in 2020 we will begin to see the pieces start to come together through integrations & partnerships.

Continuing innovation in materials will help unlock new applications of AM, and customers will demand solutions that allow them to take advantage of this increase in choice. Material selection should serve the needs of the customer, not the other way around.

Jon Donner, CEO & Co-Founder, Nanofabrica

We believe that in 2020 additive manufacturing (AM) will continue to be used for replacement of traditional manufacturing technologies, and this will continue to be focussed on applications where the use of AM reduces the time and cost of manufacturing. AM has yet to find its sweet spot here, as it is no longer a technology that can only be used for one offs or very short runs. The technology in general is now able to cater for mid-volume runs, and at Nanofabrica in particular where we focus on the production of micro-scale parts and components, we can obviously fit numerous products in a single build envelope, so we nudge into the area of mass high volume AM manufacturing. It is our feeling, however, that as a general rule of thumb, for AM to be used as a rapid manufacturing technology for any given application it will have to demonstrate at a minimum a 10-fold improvement in cost and/or time savings to offset the cost and risk associated with changing over from a traditional manufacturing technology. 

Ben Ferrar, Vice President and General Manager, Carpenter Additive

The past year has set the stage for where the AM industry is heading. We’re anticipating that 2020 will be a banner year when it comes to the adoption of new step-change productivity additive technologies across a wider range of industries. A greater uptake in new entrants into the technology will drive applications working with new alloys, exposing a greater number of users to the benefits of the material processing capability of Additive Manufacturing.

Aaron Bent, CEO, 6K

While the AM Industry is more sustainable than subtractive due to the very nature of being “additive”, the development and production of materials for additive is very inefficient and has room for improvement on the sustainability front.  With the importance of sustainability becoming a focus for many organizations across the globe, we see companies looking to embrace materials and processes that contribute to the circular economy. Additionally, as companies start to understand the AM process we see organizations demanding higher-performance from their AM materials as they explore AM part applications for production.  Lastly, companies will be looking to test and qualify new materials that are not currently available for AM to meet their emerging AM applications.

Xinfu Xie, Co-founder & COO, Chitubox

In the new year, technology and applications are changing rapidly, and people’s understanding of 3D printing technology is more comprehensive. I think this will be a good start. The cost of many 3D printers and materials is falling, the performance of materials is constantly improving, and these materials can be widely used in our lives. People are increasingly aware of what 3D printing technology can do for themselves, and our efforts have become more valuable. Software and printer updates and material updates will allow us to better use 3D printing technology to serve our lives.

Josh Martin, CEO and Co-Founder, Fortify

I believe that 2020 will bring a deeper integration between hardware OEMs and larger materials companies. This has already happened at some level, given that companies such as DSM and Henkel have recently leaned into 3DP. Even big materials companies from traditional industries (such as Evonik, 3M, IGUS, and Sandvik) are continuing to invest in 3D printing,  and are bringing their materials portfolio into additive manufacturing. It is creating an exciting opportunity for OEMs to help enable scalable and reliable processing of these new material systems. Industrial collaborations will become more common, as customers demand higher levels of integration between different hardware, software, and materials companies, to get product development over the finish line. Rather than sourcing a fully-integrated solution, cross-pollination between hardware, software, materials, and services will enable customers to access more viable systems.

Alessio Lorusso, CEO & Founder, Roboze

During 2019 we witnessed great growth and interest in the adoption of AM systems with high-temperature polymers.

I think that metal replacement represents a real turning point of the key players involved in industries like aerospace and motorsport.

Tooling is another increasingly interesting application for all those manufacturing companies that finally decided to get the advantages coming from the implementation of polymer AM systems: warehouse digitalization, on-demand, and just-in-time end-use parts; processes’ optimization and lighter and more ergonomic parts.

Martin Back, Managing Director, BigRep GmbH

This will be the year that large-format FFF 3D printing hardware is met with high-performance, industrial-grade filaments for AM applications in automotive, aerospace, rail and other industries both in and outside of the transportation sector. 

Today more than ever, industrial clients want to quickly provide personalized products on a mass scale. To do that, they need manufacturing workflows tailor-made for mass-produced, custom products. Because of this, manufacturing processes will increasingly require more flexibility within serial production, a need that large-format 3D printers are uniquely poised to meet.

Fortunately, the flexibility of large-format AM systems only continues to increase as unique opportunities for high-temperature extrusion are met, rapidly increasing the available filaments – especially engineering-grade filaments. For example, thanks to BigRep’s new Metering Extruder Technology (MXT®) – featured on the BigRep PRO – a revolutionary new method of thermoplastic extrusion has created unique opportunities with the materials industrial manufacturers need, like our PA6/66 filament that has received significant interest from the automotive industry.

As high-performance filaments become increasingly available this year, so to will application-specific engineering-grade filaments. As manufacturer’s priorities shift with developments in AM, efficient processes and sustainability are becoming increasingly important. Manufacturers want to work with materials that are highly efficient, can serve multiple purposes, or enable environmentally friendly processes like filament recycling to introduce closed-loop supply chains – an opportunity that isn’t readily accessible in metal AM applications. At BigRep we are already working in partnership with BASF to develop filaments that advance production opportunities to meet these industrial interests in large-format AM. 

Finally, increasing IoT capabilities in new AM systems will create new opportunities for data collection and productivity monitoring that enable manufacturers to easily optimize their processes were needed for even more precise and efficient manufacturing workflows.

Taken together, these three trends – the increasing selection of high-performance filaments, application-specific sustainable engineering-grade filaments, and IoT process optimization – will require new, modernized strategies from 3D printer manufacturers to succeed. New strategies must take into consideration the closer relationship between integrated applications, optimized processes, and specialized materials. At BigRep, we are already ahead of this change, providing 360-degree solutions that empower production. 

Xavier Martínez Faneca, CEO, BCN3D

During 2020 I hope to see improvements especially in the interaction of the user with the hardware. Manufacturers must work to facilitate printing using tools “in the cloud” and at the same time enable users to get the most out of the hardware through proper communication between manufacturer and customer.

Kunal Mehta, Principal Consultant, Blueprint

2020 will accelerate the shift from general equipment and materials products to end-to-end industry-specific AM solutions. Solutions will go deeper. This is not the year for copycat technology. Successful OEMs will be thinking less about new technologies and more about meeting requirements for key verticals like aerospace, automotive, medical, and mobility. 

For examples, look to the medical and dental industries. The medical world is using digital materials to create physical models of organs to displace cadavers in both training and research, and as a tool for practicing complex surgical procedures. For years, the dental industry has been using 3D printing to create molds for customized dental aligners. What do these two examples have in common? In both cases, industry worked with machine and material suppliers to develop solutions that were specific to their industry that could only be accomplished with 3D printing.

Blake Courter, CTO, nTopology

By the end of the year, we need to get a handle on functional additive materials. We can print a stunning array of materials with lightweight and other material properties, but using those materials functionally requires incredible dedication. There are three aspects of the problem: modeling the material properties, measuring and calibrating to real-world results, and making a process repeatable. Most of our customers are at some stage of getting in control of these processes, and it’s clear that we need to work together as an industry to address the market needs.  

Andre Wegner, Founder & CEO, Authentise

2020 will be the year that data will finally be given the recognition it deserves. That means that most sizable printer manufacturers will have well managed API access to their machines. Those API’s will be mainly focused on getting data out, but many providers will copy EOS and Ultimaker to enable API pushing data, through toolpath systems, into machines. Connected machines will not only include additive devices either – increasingly testing devices like CT and material test devices will come online, as will post-processing devices such as CNC machines will be, too.

To manage this data flood, most significant production bureau’s will have hired full-time digital experts by the end of the year. They will be helped by increasing data standards, as we saw starting to materialize at the end of last year with initiatives from ASTM and OPC-UA.

Christian Lönne, CEO, Digital Metal

Digital Metal are pioneers in binder jetting technology. The awareness of binder jetting as a 3D/AM technology has taken a significant leap forward in 2018/2019 reaching a new level of maturity with systems in operation in real industrial serial production as opposed to more experimental rapid prototyping. The technology is still evolving fast with a high rate of productivity and precision improvement annually. In such a rapidly evolving environment we believe a highly scalable platform where customers can upgrade printers to the latest productivity level will be essential to protect customer’s investments. Our prediction for 2020 is that we will see continuous impressive rates of productivity increases that enable more and more businesses to reap the flexibility and speed benefits of 3D technology and start real mass-production in high volume. However, we also believe that there will be a need to balance speed with process stability to ensure high production yield and reliability.  

Jon Wilde, VP Product, SimScale GmbH

I think that 3D printing can become a mainstream manufacturing process with predictable and reliable structures. In the following years, we would be wise to try to standardize on a smaller number of approaches, rather than dozens of possible additive methods. 

I hope that we can save resources by utilizing additive manufacturing, through both lightening structures and only using the necessary materials. With any luck, this will also benefit our environment!

The analysis of these structures is currently rather complex and I would really love to see this improve, allowing newcomers to produce novel structures without simulation knowledge.

Tim Weber, Global Head of 3D Metals, HP

3D printing’s impact on electric vehicle production will be massive in the years ahead. The light weighting of parts combined with the fast prototyping and production capabilities of 3D printing will create the perfect match allowing automakers and manufacturers to produce large volumes of car parts that were previously impossible to create. We expect that automakers will accelerate their electric vehicle roadmaps using both metal and plastic 3D printing.  Volkswagen, for example, is expected to introduce 70 new electric models in the next 10 years and they’ll be using HP Metal Jet for production-grade metal parts. The automaker previously announced that our 3D printing technology will be used as the foundation for their strategy to industrialize additive manufacturing with a multi-year design and production roadmap. Some of the other major automakers that HP works with, such as BMW and Jaguar Land Rover, could also use 3D printing to increase throughput and production revenue, speed up production, and reduce the cost of operation as a result.

Dr. Ingo Ederer, CEO, voxeljet

Throughout the diversity of technologies, AM continues to climb the Plateau of Productivity. While systems tend to become increasingly more powerful, the growing number of materials suppliers recognizing the potential of AM with specialized products, really shows the demand and wide range of applications for this technology.

Also in 2020 we will continue to witness the integration of AM into serial production. In 2019, we have introduced a fully automated, additive production line with our collaborational ICP project. The “Industrialization of Core Printing” is designed for the automotive industry, leveraging the great advantages of 3D printing, such as freedom of design, cost effectiveness and a high flexibilization of casting production, into the automotive industry. To achieve these high outputs, it was mandatory to fully automate the post processing process to reduce labor to a minimum and increase output. 

The integration of automated post processing solutions into the AM workflow will gain traction and also spread to new materials and processes. Our next goal to step into serial production of polymer parts is the VX1000 HSS.

Benny Buller, Founder and CEO, VELO3D

One year is a little too short to predict anything truly transformative. 

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Featured image shows a Wolfmet 3D printed Tungsten Collimator. Photo by Michael Petch.