3D Printing

Trends in Additive Manufacturing for end-use production with Carbon

3D Printing Industry is taking an in depth look at how additive manufacturing is moving to production. Over the coming weeks the results of interviews with industry leading practitioners will be published.

This article is part of a series examining Trends in Additive Manufacturing for End-Use Production.

Gurjeev Chadha is Head of Product Marketing at Carbon.

3D Printing Industry:What is your percentage estimate of how much your printers are used for production versus other applications?

Gurjeev Chadha: Carbon’s core value proposition is our ability to deliver high quality final parts, so that’s exactly what our customers are looking for when they subscribe to our printers. Carbon’s Digital Light Synthesis technology helps customers to do faster design iterations and move to final production on the same material and manufacturing method instead of prototyping first on one technology and then manufacturing it on a different technology. While we can’t give an exact percentage, a majority of our customers across multiple industry verticals such as automotive, consumer goods, dental, and more are using our printers for production.

3DPI:. Do you have an estimate of the addressable market for AM in production?

GC: In our opinion, AM in production is still in early stage so defining its addressable market is tricky. Partnerships like the one between Carbon and adidas are leading the way in making AM in production a reality, but as a whole AM has a long way to go before it catches up to traditional manufacturing.

One could argue that the addressable market is essentially the entire traditional manufacturing equipment and materials market, but looking at it that way doesn’t t take into account the possibilities AM opens up for new products and experiences for consumers. For example, inventory-on-demand is a new unique capability possible with AM for production and it’s a multi-billion dollar industry in U.S. alone. What percentage of this market will eventually transition to AM will be seen over the next few years.

3DPI: Which industries/verticals are leading in the use of AM for production?

GC: While we are seeing applications transition to AM for production across industry verticals, automotive, consumer electronics, consumer goods, medical devices, and dental are leading the way in terms of adoption. More interestingly, for verticals such as automotive, consumer electronics, and consumer goods, it is Carbon’s ability to deliver functional, end-use parts that are traditionally difficult to produce using injection molding, that is driving market adoption. While for verticals such as dental it is Carbon’s ability to deliver high-quality mass-customized

products that is driving AM for production.

3DPI: What barriers does AM face for production and how are these surmountable?

GC: The biggest barrier for AM for end-production is not qualification and certifications, it is education. AM for production is a new mindset and business leaders, designers, engineers, and technicians need to be educated that AM technology is ready to unshackle with prototyping constraint and move into end production. While the choice of materials and the technology capabilities are increasingly closing the gap with traditional manufacturing methods for a broader adoption, it is education that will catalyze the right “pull” force from the market for AM in production.

Perceived and real cost have also been barriers for adoption, but this, again, is all about education and changing the traditional mindset. Injection molding costs are many times narrowly defined to direct materials, machine time, and direct labor, but there are other costs to consider such as time to market, prototyping/tooling, design for injection molding and more. Carbon addresses those cost barriers with Digital Light Synthesis technology because it essentially eliminates tooling stages and associated costs, and companies can go directly to production at scale. Additionally, Carbon is working across the supply chain to drive polymer resin prices down. As market adoption increases, we are positive it will help bring down resin prices further due to economies of scale and more parts will be manufactured using AM.

3DPI:. Are there any notable trends in AM for end use production?

GC: Put simply, we’re going to see more and more companies using AM for end-use production. Carbon is already working with a range of companies that will validate in the coming months. Not only will more companies be using AM for production, but they’ll be doing it economically and at scale, using the technology to print one or million parts.

Another trend that will continue to evolve is the role played by contract manufacturers as a channel for production application development. We at Carbon are partnering with some of the leading contract manufacturers across the globe to get AM capabilities in hands of our customers.

This article is part of a series examining Trends in Additive Manufacturing for End-Use Production.

You can read more about Carbon here.

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