3D Printers

Insights into future of 3D printing with 3D Platform president

Now SolidWorks World is over for another year, 3D Printing Industry caught up with Jonathan Schroeder, President of large-scale 3D printer manufacturers 3D Platform who exhibited at the expo.

3D Platform was founded in 2014 and is based in Roscoe, Illinois. The first 3D Platform Workbench model has 3D printer with a max build area of 1 meter x 1 meter x 0.5 meter build area. One feature that sets the Workbench apart from other large format 3D printers is that it is equipped with set of tool drawers and a work surface.

The 3D Platform Workbench at SolidWorks World 2017. Photo by Kirby Downey
The 3D Platform Workbench at SolidWorks World 2017. Photo by Kirby Downey

As an active product development manager, Schroeder took over as president in 2016. In our interview he gives some of his thoughts for the future of 3D printing, touching on 3D printed ceramics, and a movement towards specialized understanding of additive manufacturing.

Trends in 3D printing

The main two trends Schroeder observes are a movement away from 3D printing for just prototyping, and also the growing popularity of 3D printed ceramics. For the latter trend, he comments,

Specialty fields like aerospace and medical will be the quickest adopters.  Aerospace will value the shape optimization and weight reduction.  Medical will value the personalization and customization.

Getting the right results in 3D printing ceramics has been an area of experimentation for some time and recently 3D printing business Nano Dimension announced they have a product under development.

In terms of 3D printing for production and finished end-user parts, Schroeder says,

We will begin to see more companies accept parts produced through additive manufacturing methods for low volume production at both the beginning and end of a product’s life cycle (prototypes, early production and spare parts after retirement)

Half prototyped wheel rim 3D printed by 3D Platform. Photo by Kirby Downey
Half prototyped wheel rim 3D printed by 3D Platform. Photo by Kirby Downey

Challenges to the 3D printing industry

Schroeder’s insights on the challenges to additive manufacturing follow the theme of enhanced specificity, he says,

Engineers & Managers need to learn that there are many very different types of ‘Additive’ Manufacturing machines (aka 3D Printers) and each has its own features & benefits and processing rules.

Adding that,

Most engineers studied ‘Design for Manufacturing’ in school. Additive equipment has its own set of rules and these need to be learned. Engineers would not try to apply a ruleset of a machined part to that of a casting… so why do we try to apply the rules of machining, casting and injection molding to additive equipment?

Indeed, the desire for specialist knowledge in additive manufacturing a topic that came up in our interview with Professor Moataz Attallah, metallurgist and director of the University of Birmingham’s AMPLab for making metals.

How are 3D Platform answering these challenges and trends?

3D Platform has their own 3D printer filaments for FFF 3D printing that are made to order. The company has also introduced an even larger additive manufacturing machine known as the Excel Series, that starts with a max build area of 1.2 x 1.2 x 2.4 m.

The 3D Platform big area Excel additive manufacturing machine (left) with the Workbench for comparison on the right. Photo via: 3D Platform/Fabbaloo
The 3D Platform big area Excel additive manufacturing machine (left) with the Workbench for comparison on the right. Photo via 3D Platform.

It will be interesting to see how the company continues to develop their machines and materials for an additive future.

We’ll have more insights from the 3D printing industry soon. To be the first in the know sign up to the 3D Printing Industry newsletter here.

Featured image shows large scale batch production of cylinders on the 3D Platform Workbench Photo via: 3DPlatform.com

Some images featured in this article are courtesy of 3D designer Kirby Downy, who can be found on MyMiniFactory here.

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