Insights

What is the future of 3D printing? 80 additive manufacturing experts forecast 3D printing trends for 2023

The annual 3D Printing Industry Executive Survey collects insights from analysts, academics, CEOs, and CTOs, leading industrial additive manufacturing enterprises and community advocates 

This year over 80 experts provided their forecasts for the future of 3D printing in 2023. The responses are published below.

3D printing does not operate in a vacuum, and the macroeconomic and environmental forces shaping the global industrial and manufacturing landscape should be given consideration alongside advances in technology and trends specific to our industry.

In 2023, China’s reopening is set to be the most significant economic event of the year. For most, the country has been closed for almost three years, and while the first quarter is predicted to remain unsettled as a transition proceeds, renewed trading is set to boost GDP. HSBC forecasts a 10% jump comparing Q1 2023 to the following year’s first quarter. However, lasting effects of lockdown are set to persist – several are of particular relevance to the 3D printing world. 

Within China, it will be interesting to see how firms such as Bright Laser Technology and Farsoon continue to expand both domestically and internationally. Will Chinese enterprises unlock the value of additive manufacturing from design possibilities, and how will AM be deployed at scale in such a key manufacturing economy? International firms will surely be keen to access a reopened China and, looking at how the market will evolve, with end-users becoming increasingly sophisticated, using metrics other than price to differentiate between systems, appraising vendors using more stringent criteria such as tolerances, speed, and repeatability.

The disruption to supply chains caused by the pandemic has led to a reappraisal of 3D printing for distributed and local manufacturing. In North America, the re-industrialization of the USA supported by the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) and the CHIPS and Science Act will be watched closely. The IRA is slated to authorize spending of $393 billion on climate change and decarbonization efforts, while the CHIPS Act adds a further $280 billion to boost high-tech research and reshoring semiconductor manufacturing. A potential beneficiary of such re-industrialization may be CORE Industrial Partners, a private equity firm currently accumulating a manufacturing portfolio. Elsewhere, sustainability efforts, such as Germany’s Decarbonisation of Industry backed by €177 billion, seem like opportunities for the application of additive.

Protectionism’s fracturing of the global economy led TMSC’s Morris Chang to recently declare, “Free trade is almost dead” others have cautioned that redrawing of geopolitical power lines via access to technology will lead to duplication of economic activity and inefficiencies. How will AM systems, with their potential to manufacture such a broad range of products, function in this shifting paradigm?

As many of the respondees below note, consolidation in the 3D printing industry is either well underway or incoming. Expect operators in the desktop FDM and LCD resin markets facing stiff competition to seek to differentiate by moving products into higher categories, targeting commercial users. Established 3D printing companies, perhaps sitting on sizeable cash balances, may use the impending recession to snap up undervalued assets of competitors, buying the dip. As share prices decline, this could make recently IPO’d SPAC ventures attractive to corporate acquirers. As Nikon’s purchase of SLM Solutions illustrates, the wider manufacturing world is also interested in the opportunity of AM.

2023 is set to be a year of record installations of additive manufacturing systems, validation of applications continues apace in sectors with stringent regulatory criteria, such as healthcare, and aerospace. Scale, the seemingly holy grail of AM, was on everyone’s lips as trade shows returned in 2022. Manufacturing, at volume, will continue to be keenly pursued, and the results from private pilot programs will further spread. Aiding scale will be higher throughput 3D printing systems coupled with enhanced reliability and repeatability, plus the extended ecosystem of post-processing and integration of actionable data. 

A key trend to watch will be how the 3D printing industry uses AI. ChatGPT and generative image software such as Midjourney and DALL-E have stoked the imagination, the speed of their ascent is breathtaking. Nvidia has demonstrated AI tools to produce 3D models from text input, and 2023 is sure to see AI applications for additive manufacturing spread. 

Read on for insights from the experts.

Part two of the 2023 3D Printing Industry Executive Survey. Subscribe to our free newsletter for regular news, analysis, and insights into additive manufacturing.

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Dr. Jeffrey Graves, President & CEO, 3D Systems

Organizations have continued to integrate additive manufacturing (AM) into their production operations to mitigate supply chain risks, enhance product design flexibility, and reduce manufacturing costs. Looking ahead to the coming year, I believe we’ll see significant momentum in the use of AM to increase the velocity of innovation in the healthcare, industrial, and pharmaceutical industries.

Healthcare continues to adopt AM to deliver personalized healthcare solutions at a moderate pace largely due to the highly-regulated nature of this market. Industry-leading medical device manufacturers are already creating patient-specific implants, tools, and surgical guides from both metals and polymers that are customized to the shape of individual bones. As we progress through the coming year, I anticipate that more hospitals will begin to bring AM directly into their facilities to address a host of applications including orthopedics, dental, and surgical instrumentation. AM at the point of care has the potential to tighten supply chains in turn allowing hospitals to accelerate time to part in hand which ultimately will help them more efficiently deliver patient care.

In industrial markets, there has been a tremendous uptick in the number of manufacturers that are embracing metal AM for the production of end-use parts, particularly in the aerospace and energy markets. I believe we’ll see that activity continue and that it will be bolstered by composite materials gaining traction for production applications. This will be facilitated by the evolution of the materials as well as the 3D printing technology. In the year ahead, I anticipate new AM solutions that are designed specifically for mass production whereby manufacturers will be able to rely on the technology to accelerate their workflows in ways not previously possible. This will be further enabled by end-to-end software solutions that combine a variety of printing and finishing technologies to not only enhance productivity but also maintain the traceability required by highly regulated environments.

Finally, many companies are working on unique bioprinting solutions to positively impact how therapies are developed and patient care is delivered. In 2023, I believe there will be significant progress made using bioprinted human tissue models to accelerate drug discovery and development. The ability to accurately simulate the human response to an experimental drug in the laboratory, early in the development process, can significantly shorten the process to bring a new drug to market, and could eventually eliminate the need for animal testing.

Guy Menchick, Chief Technology Officer, Stratasys

Firstly, we are seeing a significant acceleration in materials development for additive manufacturing (AM).  As 3D printing evolves and develops, we are continually seeing new applications, particularly in end use parts, which naturally attracts the attention of material companies. That, in turn, opens up new manufacturing applications –  it’s a virtuous cycle and one which Stratasys will continue to move forward.  For our FDM systems, for example, where we would once have been bringing new materials to market every 18 months, we have now been able to deliver more than a dozen new materials this year alone, between us and our partners. Strategic partnerships and acquisitions are also a key part of this long-term vision, allowing us to expand our in-house materials expertise, for example through the pending acquisition of Covestro’s AM materials business.

Secondly, we are seeing an industry-wide focus on ‘scaling up’ additive manufacturing. We now have the capability to make production-grade parts, with this process only becoming faster and more productive as we look ahead. This is increasingly enabling businesses across the globe to integrate AM into their production operations. However, we also need to look beyond hardware and into the software enabling these developments. Industry 4.0 integration will no doubt be central in the coming years across scheduling, monitoring, maintenance, quality assurance and more.

For Stratasys, building connectivity and automation into our systems is already at the top of the agenda and reflected within our latest developments – for example, in making SDKs available to connect systems to enterprise manufacturing applications. Stratasys also recently demonstrated a Production Automation Cell, which automates the process of moving parts from a fleet of industrial 3D printers to post-processing systems – demonstrating how this focus on automation can ultimately improve throughput and productivity.

Guy Menchik, CTO, Stratasys. Photo via Stratasys
Guy Menchik, CTO, Stratasys. Photo via Stratasys

Bart Van der Schueren, CTO, Materialise

For 2023, we have identified several trends that, together, hold the key to breaking down the barriers that are still associated with adopting the technology as part of an industrial manufacturing process. Addressing these topics, will help companies scale up their 3D printing operations into volume production and advance the overall adoption of 3D printing.

The first trend is the shift to distributed manufacturing, but done smart! In recent years, disrupted supply chains have made companies rethink their centralized production model. During the Corona crisis, 3D printing was used reactively — a temporary replacement – but now we see that many companies are ready to adopt a more strategic approach to 3D printing. This requires a change in mindset: a shift away from short-term solutions and towards using 3DP for the sustainable production of certified end-use parts. In the end, smart Distributed Manufacturing, enabled by 3D printing and when done strategically, can be a successful strategy in its own right, rather than an ad hoc response to problems with global supply chains.

Secondly, the cost of 3D printing must come down. A recent survey by Materialise shows that “the ability to reduce the overall manufacturing cost” is considered the most important benefit of 3D printing. But that doesn’t necessarily mean that the 3D printing process itself is cost-efficient. So, to accelerate the adoption of 3D printing, our industry will have to make extra efforts to reduce the cost of 3D printing.

In recent years, software has allowed us to automate various stages of the 3D printing process: from preparing and fixing files to post-processing. But these are all individual processes. The promise of large-scale, industrial 3D printing, however, requires us to automate not only the individual processes but also the flow between them: workflow automation. The good news is that software platforms, like Materialise’s CO-AM platform, allow manufacturers to automate not just the individual 3D printing processes but the entire 3D printing workflow, from order intake to delivery and everything in between.

Finally, data security and data integrity become top of mind. A digital, distributed production environment revolves around one key asset — data. And that data needs to be secured. Of course, data security is important in any form of manufacturing, whether traditional or smart. But with 3D printing, there’s more to it than that. In a distributed production environment, all 3D-printed components must have the same quality, no matter where they are produced. Creating such a process is complex and time-consuming, but it allows companies to leap ahead of the competition. That’s why, in addition to data security, data integrity is becoming top of mind for companies that embrace digital manufacturing.

Nikolai Zaepernick, Chief Business Officer & Managing Director, EOS

In general, we expect continuous growth of material, hardware and service sales as the industry is further developing in 2023.

A trend that will start to gain further traction is that of factory concepts being application driven.  This will require the optimization of machines, periphery, and post processing to maximize throughput and minimize cost. The optimization of an AM production line can move a business case from an unviable to viable scenario or increase the potential for profit and design innovation. 

Furthermore, with Additive Manufacturing, manufacturers are connecting the physical supply chain with a digital thread that allows them to manage products more efficiently from concept to end-of-life. Manufacturing can be distributed across any location with a digital manufacturing system in place, simply by sending a file. This decentralization enables a more collaborative, transparent, and efficient supply chain, as was highlighted by the role of AM already during the Covid-19 pandemic in overcoming supply chain challenges.

At EOS we are committed to responsible manufacturing as sustainability is getting more important and urgent. EOS and other manufacturers are constantly working to make machines and materials more energy efficient and sustainable, supporting the circular economy model, with improved recyclability and bio-degradability.  Going forward we will continue to see an acceleration of the synergy between material science, manufacturing, and technology – unlocking innovation opportunities that have not been conceived before.  While substantial investments in all parts of the AM ecosystem are fueling growth, it would be hard to overstate the significance of materials.

Dr. Gregory Hayes, Senior Vice President Applied Technology, EOS North America

Additive manufacturing is still currently an emerging technology in the manufacturing world with early adopters showing success and many inroads being made slowly but steadily – application by application. Today, industrial 3D printing is in the ‘show me’ era, where companies are asking questions like “what is the tech, and how can it be useful to me?” A normal response with technology adoption curves.  

Looking forward, AM will continue to be accepted as another tool in the toolbox, where engineers and manufacturing companies will have a deeper understanding of how to leverage the variety of technologies available at their fingertips. As we continue to grow as an industry, engineers will know when a part should be 3D printed, when parts should remain machined, and when a system should be optimized for cost and performance. This will mark the definitive change from the ‘show me’ era to a more recognized, commoditized market. As we progress in 2023-2024, we will begin bridging the gap from emerging technology to commoditized, and thus, workforce development and supplier qualification will become larger topics in the new year.

Wayne Davey, Global Head Go-to-Market, HP Personalization and 3D Printing

As we head into 2023, the 3D printing industry looks set to continue to grow and expand. In the past year, we have faced a number of global insecurities, ranging from supply chain issues, the continued climate crisis and impending recessions. 3D printing has demonstrated it can be a solution to a number of these issues, and we expect more businesses will turn to 3D printing and its intrinsically flexible nature to shore-up supply chains, rely less on manual labor, repeat assembly tasks to the highest of quality, quickly and efficiently, and provide mass personalisation. 

Thanks to the rise in the trend for personalised goods, we have seen an increase in manufacturers turning to 3D print technology to help them meet new demands. 3D print technology allows brands to personalise products to attract and retain customers in a competitive market. For example, HP is helping a number of companies in different industries, ranging from customised footwear, orthotics, prosthetics and sporting goods, such as golf clubs and ski goggles, use 3D printing to meet rising demand for customised goods. 3D technology’s flexible nature allows for the cost-effective, sustainable mass-production of personalised products, and reduces the need for a variety of machinery and different parts.  

Lastly, digitisation will continue to make 3D production increasingly attractive thanks to uniformity and repeatability, not only for polymers, but also in metal manufacturing, meaning more brands in different fields such as industrial, automotive, consumer, and healthcare will be able to access the benefits of additive manufacturing at scale. As 3D technology becomes more advanced, newer solutions will be capable of rising to increased demand for data application and digital technology all while ramping to mass production. 

Dr. Ingo Ederer, CEO, voxeljet

In the past year, we have already observed the increasing confidence of customers and users in 3DP technology. We recognized this in the increase of orders for larger quantities. One reason behind this is, that we can see more and more products, developed for and with additive manufacturing, exceeding the performance of previous iterations. Complex designs, which previously could only be manufactured at great expense, are slowly but surely gaining acceptance, contributing to the ongoing integration of 3D printing into production lines. A clear trend will therefore be the growing application in series production using 3DP and existing users and customers wanting to increase their printing capacities.

Dr. Johannes Homa, CEO, Lithoz

As we have already seen with major players entering the market, 3D printing has reached a new level of maturation. Technology providers are increasingly recognising its business potential and as such are launching 3D printing systems along their traditional product portfolio. We therefore predict in 2023 that 3D printing techniques will be further combined and integrated into existing production workflows to unlock entirely new applications. However, as this maturing phase settles, the wide range of suppliers currently available could slowly decrease – only those manufacturers with high-quality machines and materials will prevail as customer demands for more innovation grow. 

These customers, as users of the technology, will become increasingly educated in how best to integrate 3D printing with any other systems they may be using. The advance of additive manufacturing for medical and dental applications will be most rapid thanks to the flexibility and full customization offered, alongside the previously unachievable levels of cost effectivity and speed during manufacturing.

With the expansion of 3D printing in general, ceramic 3D printing will also play a growing role in the manufacturing of complex, high-performance parts. While ceramic additive manufacturing is certainly a powerful process, it is considerably more complex than other types of AM, meaning that metal or polymer AM have been able to more rapidly establish themselves as a form of production. 

However, as our customers show, ceramic AM has now passed a critical threshold. With ceramic 3D-printed applications being printed in their millions and industrial series production well underway using this technology, ceramic AM is now in a major growth phase and shares of ceramics in the general AM market will increase as more innovators use this process to scale up to mass production, a trend for which all prerequisites have already been fulfilled.

As more businesses get involved with 3D printing and the number of technology providers becomes more streamlined, we forecast an increasing number of strategic acquisitions and partnerships in the market. Such consolidations enable multiple technology pillars from one company, as shown for example with Lithoz in 2022 who have added the new Laser-Induced Slipcasting and Layer-wise Slurry Deposition (LSD-Print) technologies to their portfolio alongside their classic Lithography-based Ceramic Manufacturing process. 

John Kawola, CEO, Boston Micro Fabrication

3D printing has proven itself as a powerful prototyping tool.  It is now very much a standard part of the development of almost all physical product designs.  The next big step up has been the use in manufacturing which has slowly evolved over the past 10 years.  Advancements in materials, processing power, hardware technology (light engines, print heads, scanners, etc) have all been moving the technology closer to being capable and justifiable for manufacturing.  But, it has been incremental and arguably slow.  Once of the challenges is that you have literally 100’s of small technology companies developing capability.  The biggest stand alone companies like 3D Systems, Stratasys and EOS are still relatively small.   The big companies like HP and GE have relatively small divisions working on 3D printing.  While collectively, all of this development is moving the ball forward across many applications, there is an inherent inefficiency in many companies chasing similar applications.  With the economic headwinds expected, will there be enough business for multiple players in each market niche?  The companies that are differentiated, provide real value and are focused on supporting their customers will succeed in the long term.  The others will not.

Bas de Jong, COO, 3YOURMIND

The slower-than-anticipated post-COVID-19 recovery has been difficult for the 3D printing industry. Despite this, interest in the potential and application of 3D printing remains. In 2023, I anticipate customers will be more mindful of how they spend their budgets. As a result, companies will focus more on activities that generate value within a year.

For example, investing in tools, equipment, and processes that can decrease lead times and costs will be critical. This will encourage companies to allocate more resources to identify, qualify, and develop more applications that capture the value of 3D printing to generate quick wins faster. 

Sona Dadhania, 3D Printing Analyst, IDTechEx

Of key concern for the additive manufacturing industry is the maturation of the 3D printing production line beyond the printer: materials, post-processing, quality assurance, etc. While historically, innovation in AM focused on improving printer technologies (i.e., aspects like print speed, build volume, printer economics, etc.), it’s clear that AM requires an entire ecosystem for its successful integration into manufacturing supply chains. In 2023, we will see greater recognition of the need to mature and improve these auxiliary aspects of AM to spur higher adoption of AM in high-value applications. This could already be seen on the exhibition floor of Formnext, where one could find in-situ monitoring systems, AI-driven QA software, workflow management solutions, and fully automated post-processing machines among others. An interesting example includes predictive software that account for defects in CAD designs prior to any printing. Many 3D printer manufacturers have announced acquisitions of or collaborations with companies developing such products, with the aim of offering the entire 3D printing workflow as the product to end-users, not just the printer.

Happening simultaneously is the development of AM ecosystems for specific verticals. Given the specific certification, health & safety, reliability, and other concerns for individual industries, 3D printing companies are increasingly developing products tailored toward one industry’s needs, rather than a one-size-fits-all product. Developing entire AM ecosystems geared for a specific industry’s needs and challenges will go a long way towards increasing trust and adoption in high-value verticals such as medicine and automotive. This will be especially important in 2023, given global economic uncertainty, which historically has negatively affected R&D, a strong application area for AM.

Dr. Wilderich Heising, Partner and Associate Director, Boston Consulting Group (BCG)

I truly believe that we are now entering a period of sustained growth in additive manufacturing. We are beyond the hype phase, where 3D Printing was “dressed up to look shiny”. Looking at the high level of quality in the parts that we could witness at Rapid and Formnext in 2022 it makes me very confident, that AM is here to stay. Quality has reached very decent levels that allow us to move from prototyping into manufacturing and end-use parts production. This transition will be a major unlock for the growth in AM in the years to come across many industries.

Moreover, this transition from prototyping to manufacturing is also fuelled by AM’s ability to be part of the solution in the many supply chain disruptions and crises that we face today. Distributed manufacturing and additive manufacturing can be a powerful combination for solving supply chain challenges. Leading companies are managing supply risks by distributing production geographically, over time, or across the value chain. Unfortunately, this approach often faces limitations—including high costs, low asset utilization, long setup times, and stringent regulatory requirements. This is where AM comes in: Additive manufacturing offers a solution to the challenges of distributed manufacturing by enabling local and highly flexible production of small quantities. For many use cases, additive manufacturing systems and processes are now technologically ready for small-series production. Applying 3D printing in distributed manufacturing will be most beneficial for producing high-value parts, such as those used in the aerospace and medical-technology industries, or low-volume replacement parts. 

Ryohei Yuasa, Researcher, Head of material design Digital Manufacturing and Design Research Center for Emergent Circularity, Keio University

The variety of materials that can be used for AM will increase. Materials that are currently proven in injection molding, etc. are becoming more and more usable in AM. 

In the future, materials and compounds created on the premise of AM will probably be applied to other manufacturing methods. In addition, the portfolio of recycled materials and biomass materials will never stop growing. 

Andre Wegner, CEO, Authentise

We’re going to see another dozen million part+ production runs in 2023. These will reach beyond the traditional examples of dental aligners and be both polymer and metal. That will bring about a bifurcation in the market: Solutions focused on scale, and solutions focused on R&D/prototyping. The latter will start looking a lot more like traditional manufacturing operations. The solutions for scale fostered by EOS and Stratasys already showed the way. In 2023, we will see more software solutions, materials and production systems geared towards this market. 

Sam O’Leary, CEO, SLM Solutions

The last few years have proven only one thing, to expect the unexpected. 

However, what I can be sure of is that we will continue to do what we do best; break records, relentlessly innovate, push the boundaries of metal 3D printing technology, hire and develop the world’s best people, and simply change the future of manufacturing forever.

Metal additive manufacturing will continue to gain significant traction in 2023, displacing the limitations of traditional manufacturing whilst extending its reach from the already well-known industry verticals. New and exciting applications will allow those with differentiating technologies to succeed and change the face of manufacturing. But that’s the key, the room at the table becomes much more limited for those with a me-too solution. 

We will be there every step of that way, empowering our customers success through innovation, passion and the experience of close to 1,000 machines producing millions of components.

Karsten Schlichter, Global Business Development Manager, Elkem

2023 will see another year of increased use and adoption of Additive Manufacturing despite and because of the general economic environment. A growing number of industries, such as aerospace, automotive, and healthcare, will continue their journey towards the integration of AM/3DP for the production of complex parts for prototypes and functional parts.

There has been a significant amount of research and development in creating new materials that can be used in additive manufacturing, and these materials will continue to expand and improve. From metals, ceramics, polymers, and resins with rigid, flexible, and elastomeric characteristics and improved, e.g. mechanical properties and thermal resistance. Also, the ability to print with multiple materials in a single build, creating more complex and functional parts based on new matches between materials and equipment, will open new options to create customized parts and products on demand, enabling greater flexibility and personalization in manufacturing, optimizing supply chain considerations.

There will likely be more specialized materials available for specific applications and an increased focus on sustainable materials, allowing longer-term use as real functional parts. As the technology continues to advance with more and more production material, it is possible that 3D printed structures will be able to match or even surpass the properties of traditionally manufactured materials.

The integration of additive manufacturing into Industry 4.0 technologies such as IoT, AI, and automation will accelerate the creation of smart factories. 3D printing and VR/AR technologies will be used together to create immersive virtual prototyping experiences, allowing for the creation and testing of designs linked to models before the physical prototypes are printed. The development of new software has made 3D printing more accessible and user-friendly, allowing for easier design and preparation of parts for printing.

Overall, the vision for materials in 3D printing in 2023 is one of increased diversity, performance, and sustainability.

Arjen Evertse, General Manager Sales EMEA, Mimaki Europe

The adoption and use of 3D printing in the manufacturing industry and industrial production has continued to grow in recent years, especially as more and more cost-effective, high productivity models enter the market. We can see that tight time-to market expectations will continue into 2023, so the ability to create photorealistic prototypes with vibrant colours, extremely accurate colour reproduction and fine details during the product development stage will be more sought after.

Not just a trend in the 3D printing industry, automation continues its rise in popularity in the wider manufacturing industry. From post-processing to the software (such as Mimaki’s 3D Print Prep Pro), printers are looking for end-to-end solutions for their workflow, so that they can run faster with minimal intervention and more predictable, consistent output.

Alessio Lorusso, CEO & Founder, Roboze

For 2023, we predict an acceleration in the adoption of industrial 3D printing technology with an increase in the number of validated end-use applications. Our end users are increasingly moving away from the mere concept of rapid prototyping of 3D printing and are going much further by consolidating the production of structural and functional finished parts and creating digital warehouses useful for generating new sources of competitiveness and flexibility in the management of the entire value chain.

This phenomenon is driving other manufacturers closer to exploring these benefits and more and more companies are starting their own digitization journey. Our role is to accompany them in the transformation of their processes and constantly invest in new developments both on the hardware/software combination and in the search for innovative materials.

Luo Xiao-fan, CEO, Polymaker

With the liberalization of epidemic control in China, the year of 2023 is very likely to be the first year when the 3D printing industry truly enters the “post-epidemic era”. I am looking forward to the recover of technical exchanges and market activities that were interrupted due to the epidemic. The high-speed and healthy development of 3D printing is inseparable from global exchanges and cooperation, so we (Polymaker) have also accelerated our global landscape: in 2023, we will establish the first overseas production base and technology center to accelerate 3D printing and to better serving our clients’ innovations around the world.

The second trend I see in 2023 is the further segmentation and specialization of additive manufacturing technology. In the past few years, most companies in the market can be divided into three categories: equipment, materials and services. However, this simple classification seems is unable to describe the current industry ecology. In many subdivided fields, such as core components, various design, simulation and process optimization software, and specific application solutions, more and more specific solutions have emerged. The specialization of technology is also a sign of the maturity of the additive manufacturing industry. I believe this trend will become more and more obvious in 2023, which will also bring more and more companies a new round of innovation and development opportunities.

In 2023, we will see 3D printing enter more application scenarios for the production of parts and end products. This is an irreversible trend; the epidemic in the past few years has also accelerated this trend in a sense. This can also be seen from the customers we serve: last year, the production purpose applications we served our customers have experienced several times of growth, and many of them will increase their investment this year (2023). In the process of serving the innovation of our clients, we have also gained a lot of sense of value creation, hence our vision of “making creation no longer difficult” is also unfolding step by step.

Generally speaking, I believe that after experiencing the ups and downs of the epidemic for three years, the 3D printing industry will usher in a more positive and optimistic situation in 2023: the specialization of 3d printing technology and the deepening application for final parts production will also bring more opportunities for innovation and development.

Josef Dolecek, CEO & Founder, Fillamentum

The past year has shown just how much additive technologies have evolved during the Covid-19 pandemic, and the need for companies to operate under constant threat to their logistics and supply chains seems to have taught many companies to look for ways to introduce 3D printing into their processes. This has also brought pressure for faster production speeds and increased technology efficiencies, particularly reducing variable costs for 3D printed products. This has boosted the adoption of production-ready technologies and led to further industry differentiation.

The winners are clearly powder and liquid technologies, but there is also a clear trend – high-speed printing. On the other hand, market consolidation is also expected in powder and resin technologies – there are now many hardware manufacturers and some are selling only units per year, which is not sustainable. A similar development to the FFF/FDM segment is expected.

In FFF/FDM, the situation is very dynamic. New players like Bambu Lab have set a new standard for equipment with disruptive pricing and this will be the biggest driver of change in this segment. Customers thus rightly expect higher print speeds but above all quality control, reliability and repeatability. With the exception of the low-end category, this applies to all market segments. I dare say that this year we will see the end of many existing brands that will not be able to follow these trends.

As manufacturers of 3D printing filaments, our main focus is on the relevant thermoplastic printing segment. However, we also face long-term challenges in this sector. The most basic ones include the introduction of materials with functional properties such as ESD, flame retardancy and certification. The circular economy and the efficient use of secondary raw materials are also big issues.

We are also seeing a demand for greater species diversity in the powder category and for greater versatility in materials and properties in resin printers.

Ted Sorom, CEO & Co-founder, Mantle

In 2023 we will continue to see companies that are application focused be successful. Applications with concrete challenges, such as labor shortages, long lead times, and high costs, will be ideal use cases for printing companies that build targeted complete solutions and material offerings. In addition, users that utilize 3D printing alongside traditional manufacturing equipment will take full advantage of the benefits of 3D printing without sacrificing part quality or existing workflows.

Continued labor shortages in the manufacturing space will require manufacturers to invest in new technologies that increase their manufacturing capacity while reducing their labor content.

3D printing will continue to reshore manufacturing, as the compressed lead times possible with 3D printing will become more and more advantageous as lead times continue to climb in Asia. 

Simon Duchaine, Chief Commerical Officer, Dyze Design

For 2023, we’ll see more and more applications of 3D printing in the robotic industry, especially in LSAM (large-scale additive manufacturing). LSAM’s been a thing for a few years now, with more and more large-scale 3d printers available on the market, but cartesian printing is a bit limiting in LSAM and not cost-effective (a lot of waste and support to print very big parts). 

With robotic arms, using Non-Planar path planning enables printing of very large parts with complex geometries and new types of slicing strategies. 

Also, a lot of 3D printer manufacturers will start looking at providing solutions for pellets 3D printing (FGF). Using pellets instead of filament boast faster print time (generally speaking) and save material cost by up to 8x. 

Kevin Nicholds, CEO, Equispheres 

I believe 2023 will be the year of big ideas coming to fruition. Metal additive manufacturing will capture headlines as a production technology. Last year we saw a huge shift as projects that had been in R&D mode moved into production. All the work of trials and applications development, combined with the availability of higher-performing machines and materials, converged for industrial 3D printing. Automotive OEMs like BMW have incorporated AM into their automotive manufacturing process, Divergent Technologies is ready to build digital factories that will use its radical production system, and major acquisitions in the metal space (Nikon and SLM, for example) demonstrate mainstream corporate support for AM.  

We have reached a point where there’s enough volume of AM to feed an ecosystem of innovation and optimization within our industry, instead of just directing our efforts to fit in with traditional manufacturing. We’re in a positive spiral of innovation, with exponential growth of technical knowledge now that the number of machines in use and production volumes have hit critical mass. I expect we’ll see some specific innovations supporting the next leaps forward, including beam shaping, improved automation, and broader adoption of AM-specific alloys. 

David J Webb, 50th Anniversary Professor of Photonics, Aston University

SLS will continue to improve for higher levels of production (larger build volumes, higher level of accuracy), mainly focused around low to medium productions to compete with injection moulding. This will also see a continuation to automation with SLA leading to higher production speeds.

The amount of materials that are available with FDM will continue to grow as more patents expire and competitors can produce their own variance on materials for a wide range of machines. Some of the materials that we may see are competitors to high level material such as PEEK.

As AM becomes more widely adopted in industry, software will also continue to evolve to bridge the gap and utilise it to its full extent. We will see more features included in traditional CAD software such as SolidWorks and new emerging software like generative design, lattice, structures, and topology optimisation that are not common in designing software at the moment being adopted, bringing down the entry level price.

In general education is still the key to the adoption of Additive moving forward from schools to FE and HE it will become an area that will see growth over the next couple of years with it being part of Industry 4.0, this is already seen with the investment in  the Birmingham IOT and further IOTs being set up across the country, for example East Midlands IOT which is due to open September 2024.

To coin a phrase that Tony Blair used back in 2001 “Education, Education, Education.”

Shon Anderson, CEO, B9Creations

A key expectation for the future of 3D printing, and the industry, in 2023 is that we will continue to see the need to shift from a narrow focus on technology to truly addressing applications, and increasingly in a manufacturing environment where dimensional precision and accuracy will need to compete with molding and milling.  

Not only will customers continue to shift demand from industry-agnostic 3D printers to industry-tailored additive production platforms, but the importance placed on implementation that delivers assurance of results will surge, as well. 

In the coming year, we expect to see an increase in industry- and application-specific factory concepts where technology solutions providers play a larger role in optimizing automatable production lines that enable flexibility in part volume, design, and supply chain resiliency. Beyond that, companies will also need to deliver turnkey solutions that integrate into the wider production ecosystem from MES software to a place alongside traditional production platforms. 

Ron Faruqui, CEO,  3DGence America

A primary challenge for 3D printing is still the adoption and execution of production-level applications at scale.

The demand for end-use parts is ever-present. However, a big barrier to adoption is that the technology still has some way to go to be truly “plug and play.” The ability to create a total system of hardware, software, and qualified materials to operate seamlessly at scale is the key.

Gathering enough “smart data” for machine learning across 3DP technologies and applications to enable AI and automation from Design to Part.

Jason Fullmer, Chief Operating Officer, Formlabs 

Looking ahead to 2023 and beyond, 3D printing will continue to innovate how companies manufacture and purchase goods, and continued supply chain obstacles will make 3D printing an even more integral technology for economic and national security issues. One example of this is President Biden’s call to U.S. manufacturers to place a greater emphasis on incorporating additive manufacturing, such as 3D printing, into their workflows. As the leading 3D printing company, Formlabs supports this initiative and has made great strides to bring its technology to the U.S. manufacturing sector and set the industry up for future success, including job creation, increased use of materials for medical applications and automotive applications, and enabling mass customization of consumer products.

As Formlabs continues to innovate and develop new materials, 3D printing will expand into even more industries. And with the recent launch of Formlabs’ Automation Ecosystem, companies can easily scale production with 3D printer fleets to address growing demand for mass customization, rapid prototyping, and product innovation without increasing costs.

Hardik Kabaria, Vice President of Software, Carbon 

As we enter 2023, there are a number of exciting additive manufacturing trends to watch out for. One of the biggest trends we’ll see is mass customization. As companies need to continually differentiate their products, the demand for personalized goods and the need for mass customization will only increase. While it’s been talked about for quite some time, the technology to support mass customization is now rapidly advancing and it will become more accessible across industries as a result.

Carbon’s technologies are helping companies overcome many of the challenges that have previously prevented mass customization from reaching its full potential. For example, in the past, companies have struggled to collect the data needed for customization, workflows for design generation have incorporated significant manual effort, and considerable human involvement has been needed for products that are manufactured at scale in various geographic locations. However, new technologies such as computer vision and 3D geometry-specific deep learning algorithms are now enabling companies to capture user data easier than ever before. Similarly, Carbon’s automated software workflows and robust manufacturing processes are helping companies make parts and products at scale across different factory locations. 

We’ve already seen success in the mass customization field with clear aligners, which are produced in the tens of millions each year. Many of the underlying technologies – software, materials, and printing processes – that are enabled for clear aligner manufacturing haven’t been utilized in other industries, such as medical or consumer products, at the same scale. But this is now changing as new data collection technologies continue to improve. In 2023, we’ll see product engineers across industries imagine, design, and launch products that are customized at a large scale – from consumer products such as helmets and orthotics to medical devices like orthopedic implants, and prosthetics – by adopting technologies and principles that have proven so successful in the clear aligner space.

Philipp Kramer, CTO & Co-founder, DyeMansion

Scaling up manufacturing will only be possible if everyone works together, and the tolerances of each process are known and can be corrected.

In 2023 we will see some key applications where huge improvements in reproducibility and factory automation have been made.

Eric Bert, SVP Commercial, InkBit

Manufacturing has been a massive focus for the industry for some time, but unfortunately, there’s a lot of hyperbole and over-stated claims, with most real-world applications remaining niche. It also makes it difficult for those companies who do have solid products to stand out from the noise. Not that the industry hasn’t seen this before, and as such, manufacturers are more informed and literate about the hype. However, 2023 will continue to see the rising demand for high-volume production; the market wants and needs it and it’s a question of getting the technology up-to-speed. Which of course, Inkbit has done with Inkbit Vista™ system and unique materials! I believe we’ll start to see a shift, with a shakeout amongst weaker ‘me too’ offerings as they fail to gain enough momentum to stay in the market. Of course, this will result in a strategic consolidation across the sector, but this is more of a long-run trend, although we can see it starting and developing in 2023.

Paul Holt, Founder, Photocentric

3D printing is transforming the way we think about design and fabrication. This is proven by the constant adoption of additive manufacturing (AM) in new applications. I believe that in 2023, AM will continue to grow and integrate into manufacturing workflows.

Some of the most successful and lucrative industrial applications will come from the advances in the properties of photopolymer resins. The development of high-performance materials combined with the validation of new processes will enable more sustainable, local manufacturing, on demand. AM will continue to facilitate resilient supply chains to bring prototype production in-house and cut tooling costs for end-user parts.

Paul Holt, Founder of Photocentric. Photo via Photocentric.
Paul Holt, Founder of Photocentric. Photo via Photocentric.

Dr. Cora Leibig, CEO and Founder, Chromatic 3D Materials

The future of the 3D-printing industry in 2023 is consolidation: We’re going to see mergers as the companies with the largest range of industrial products and services rise to the top. Production beyond prototypes is not just a nice-to-have — it will become necessary for survival.

Edward Feng, Founder & CEO, Raise3D

Regarding the forecast for 2023, there is a great risk of economic recession, while that is also an opportunity for 3D printing technology since companies will pay more attention to cost management, and 3D printing has positive significance for on-demand and localized production. 

At the same time, it was a great pity for 3D printing companies in China to pause international exchanges during the past three years, while this also forced the companies in China to survive by themselves and focus on technological breakthroughs. In 2023, it is expected that 3D printing companies from China might come up with more breakthroughs, such as automation or AI technology, to be applied in the vertical application industries.

Gavin Jeffries, CTO and Founder, Fluicell AB

3D printing has been undergoing a metamorphosis, from its complex humble origins to emerge as a utilitarian manufacturing technology. One significant leap made in the last 5 years has been to refine these technologies to utilise biological material, rapidly accelerating the deployment of 3D bioprinting technologies, using not only biocompatible materials but also cells as the building blocks. I would forecast this to continue in 2023, with biological building blocks and spheroids as the focus, generating personalised and tailored bioprinted tissues.

Max Siebert, CEO, Replique

With the growing range of materials and the development of cost and time-efficient processes, 3D printing is increasingly finding its way into series production. In order to streamline processes and reduce costs in series production, it’s necessary to connect all players on the market, from materials, post processing, software and hardware, which many are doing through end-to-end platforms. For series production to be successful, reliability and repeatability of production must be ensured, and industrial processes and robust hardware need to be established. Printer manufacturers’ service levels must reach those of traditional production systems, and digitized quality control will play a critical role. Large industrial companies within the 3D printing industry will lead this development through their experience with traditional quality assurance.

Eliana Weinstein, Founder & CEO, Cocoa Press

This year we will see additive manufacturing continue to serve new industries. I am particularly excited to see how the culinary industry begins to implement 3D printing behind the scenes and in a way that is visible and marketable to customers.

Dr. Vladimir Navrotsky, Additive Manufacturing Chief of Technology, Siemens Energy

In 2023 we’ll see new laser power bed fusion (L-PBF) printers on the market with increased build envelopes that will extend the application of AM for large components. 3D printers with more lasers will increase productivity and reduce production costs. We’ll also see more integration and automation of AM workflows as well as a strong focus on standardization.

The successful application of additive manufacturing in the energy and aviation industry will be extended, and more field experience will be acquired using AM components in gas turbines.

The activities toward transformation from a traditional warehouse to a digital warehouse in order to reduce inventory costs and realize a spare-parts-on-demand concept will be continued.

Gareth Neal, Business Development Manager EMEA & Israel, 3D Printing & Advanced Applications, Xaar

We will see the consolidation of Additive Manufacturing’s move into scale manufacturing across a variety of sectors and applications. While in many cases this change may not be obvious, as businesses protect their IP, progress will be driven on multiple fronts. Be it in the evolution of new material properties and machine configurations, or software developments and the definition of throughput capability by production metrics, significant changes will be underway. Indeed, software will play an increasingly larger role as the complexities of part building becomes more widely understood.

In addition, the complexity of some projects will demand networks where companies work together to enable delivery of a complete solution. Only through collaboration and sharing knowledge across the whole supply chain will the investment, breadth of vision and capability for AM develop, ensuring it becomes an established part of the manufacturing process.

Gareth Neal, Business Development Manager EMEA & Israel, 3D Printing & Advanced Applications. Photo via Xaar.
Gareth Neal, Business Development Manager EMEA & Israel, 3D Printing & Advanced Applications. Photo via Xaar.

Alexandre d’Orsetti, CEO, Sculpteo

I expect that the 3D printing industry will continue to have stable growth, supported by the development of several key markets for this industry, such as medical and electronics applications.

The market will continue to consolidate, and we may see more company acquisitions and concentrations of players, as we saw in the last few years.

There will also be a focus on quality, and we will go toward more control of the various processes, from software, to production, and post-processing. The reliability of parts manufactured with additive manufacturing has become comparable to conventional manufacturing, and adoption will continue to grow in many verticals.

Besides, with the growing concerns of climate change, additive manufacturing will play a key role in improving current supply chains by producing more locally; part improvement, thanks to design freedom, will also allow us to make more efficient parts. In addition, the production of parts on demand will help to fight planned obsolescence.

Alexandre d'Orsetti, CEO of Sculpteo. Photo via Sculpteo.
Alexandre d’Orsetti, CEO of Sculpteo. Photo via Sculpteo.

Xavier Martínez Faneca, CEO, BCN3D

In 2023, we anticipate that additive manufacturing will continue to evolve and advance, with a greater focus on utilizing data to create intelligent and customer-specific solutions to drive manufacturing processes. The integration of data and knowledge in the manufacturing process will allow for more efficient and personalized production. We also expect to see a shift towards distributed manufacturing, utilizing 3D printing technology to produce products locally rather than relying on traditional supply chain models. Overall, we believe that 3D printing will play a significant role in shaping the future of the manufacturing industry, and will continue to drive innovation and efficiency in the coming years.

Greg Brown, VP of Technology, Velo3D

An increased importance of system productivity and process control. The advantages of large multi-laser systems for producing integrated assemblies at low cost will displace smaller/lower productivity systems.  However, this only happens for machines which can maintain process control and part quality when utilizing large numbers of lasers. These machines will be able to outcompete legacy AM machines.

Jason Vagnozzi, Global Vice President of Additive Manufacturing, Braskem

The 3D printing industry is an exciting industry that continues to grow at an accelerated pace, recent reports indicate YoY growth in excess of 20%. The growth of the industry has attracted the attention of a lot of investors, resulting in an influx of capital and increasing valuations.  

Heading into 2023, I expect to see a more balanced approach and the potential for a period of market consolidation. We saw this trend towards the end of 2022, and we expect it to continue as the industry matures.

Steffen Schmidt, CTO, Danish AM Hub

WAAM and DED metal 3D printing will have a breakthrough in 2023 – finally, these technology variants will win the attention of the manufacturing industry in general, the offshore industry, and other areas needing large metal parts at a competitive price.

Implementation through CNC integration and robotics makes these variants “less dangerous” to the traditional manufacturing industry and takes 3D printing from the desktop hobby printer image – from toy to tool.

The relatively easy access to topology optimization makes the win and gains even more appealing and will have a positive effect on parameters like material and time savings hence more sustainable manufacturing.

Professor Moataz Attallah, The Advanced Materials Processing Lab. (AMPLAB), University of Birmingham

Technology wise: Wire & Arc Additive Manufacturing (WAAM) is likely to be the rising star of 2023. The technology has reached a satisfactory level of maturation, especially the attempts of creating a hybrid (additive + subtractive) version of it to achieve net shape quality. The use of wires and welding hardware reduces the cost significantly compared with powder-based techniques. The key shortcoming will be the development of a supply chain for custom wires, as most commercially available wires are essentially welding wires. This makes it difficult to see WAAM working for some of the high-strength Ni-superalloys, which are not usually available in wire form. WAAM, and similarly, E-beam and laser-based wire techniques, are capable of fabricating very large structures. Although managing the residual stress development and gas shielding (in WAAM and DLD) can be a challenge, these issues are not always of great concern for prototyping and for specific alloys. More investment in developing the mechanical properties specifications for WAAM will see the technique spreading wider as confidence builds up in it.

Across the field, I expect that we will see more AI-enabled quality control and process monitoring tools. Some machines already come with process monitoring tools that can view the meltpool or assess powder spreading, or create a 3D thermal footprint for the build. However, these tools give an indication of the quality during the build, rather than allow in-process control or prediction of build quality. Modeling and simulation tools will also see a significant rise, as they will help reduce the unsuccessful builds. There is still a gap in the market in having numerical modeling software and codes that can predict the thermal fields and residual stresses to design e.g., the support structure and build orientation. We have seen in the past few years also the rise of design and modeling tools like nTopology, which will facilitate the full utilization of the topology optimization capabilities of 3D printing.

Supply chain wise; I expect to see more distributed manufacturing networks in 3D printing. ‘Uber-isation’ of 3D printing is already available (e.g. hubs.com and similar companies). Also, we may see ‘Amazon’-like platforms to arise specifically to supply the feedstock and the accessories of 3D printing (e.g. metal powders, resins etc..).

Sylvia Monsheimer, Head of Industrial 3D Printing, Evonik Industries AG

In 2023, we expect the market for additive manufacturing to further consolidate at all stages along the value chain, as we have already observed in recent years. At Evonik, we follow these movements with confidence as regular market-economic mechanism that testifies to a certain maturity of the 3D printing industry towards first large-scale applications.

Dr. Gerald Mitteramskogler, CEO, Incus

The crash of the larger 3D printing companies in 2022 can be considered a burst of the 3D printing bubble. Because of that, businesses and investors looking into 3D printing will be more careful and look twice at the business case and how 3D printing can generate value for their operation. Further consolidation in the 3D printing industry can be expected in 2023, however, the evaluation of companies in unlikely to be near what the industry has seen in 2020 or 2021. Companies with positive operations and with successful implementations of their technology will be favored. The next two years will be challenging for the 3D printing industry, however, the companies working through the hype cycle will become even stronger in the coming years.    

Martin Krona, President EMEA, Markforged

The supply chain crisis continues to pose the biggest challenge for manufacturers today. I believe that this – together with the challenges of war in Ukraine, rising costs, and increasing inflation – will continue into next year and right through to 2025, with the UK and Europe being harder hit than many regions. There is no short-term solution or easy fix.

Looking towards the next 12 months, businesses that are fast to adopt new, more agile processes will become stronger and more resilient, and those who don’t will disappear. It is a real case of ‘only the strongest will survive,’ calling for companies to use technology like 3D printing to overcome challenges.

I truly believe that AM will have its true breakthrough in 2023. The global crisis is expediting the mass adoption of the technology. Over the last year, we have seen large organizations using additive in their industrial production, not just for tooling, but for mass market ‘buy-in’. Business are beginning to appreciate that an additive-first strategy can create a truly transformative shift.

We’ll also see a growing demand for 3D printing technology in defence and aerospace in the coming year, as well as in sectors like FMCG and food packaging – where printing at the point of need helps to circumvent supply chain delays.”

Ewan Baldry, Chief Engineer, Czinger Vehicles

It seems clear to me that 3D printing is the future of manufacturing, and 2023 will see continued progress toward that. Specifically, at Czinger, we will be increasing the printed content for our production vehicles. While Divergent’s (our parent company) and so Czinger’s primary application has focused on the vehicle’s structures, we are increasingly making use of the technology across the whole vehicle; powertrain, interior, exterior, lighting, trim, etc. We are finding many opportunities for structural integration – making our structural parts do more than be a structure that yields significant mass savings while at the same time reducing part count, general assembly time, and cost. 

Vadim Fomichev, Sales Director, Thor3D

We think that in 2023 we will see the development of the trends set in 2020-2022. We expect the efforts of most market players to be focused on meeting the demand from the manufacturing sector, which means that the need for automation and standardization will be a major trend not only for 3D printing but for the 3D industry as a whole. Technological innovations will come too, but the 3D printing industry will spend most of its potential on becoming more mature. We see the following trends gaining strength.

As the market becomes more and more saturated, the competition will intensify. The previous years showed the demand for affordable solutions. The upcoming trends mark the rise of price vs. quality balance needs. As an increasing number of manufacturers look into adapting 3D printers for their production needs, the demand for reliability and quality will rise (keeping the prices reasonable at the same time).

Whether we like it or not, the new normal we are living in has impacted logistics heavily and disrupted supply chains. Increased freight charges, container shortages, the threats of the new pandemics, current and probable geopolitical tensions force market players to seek new and safe solutions. As futuristic as it sounds, but 3D printing might help, we believe. Why have all the pain of freight shipping when one can simply send an .stl file to a subsidiary or distributor and have spare parts or even products 3D-printed? 2023 might bring us new solutions, which will make this idea come true in the near future.

We expect 3D printing to gain more interest from heavy industry manufacturers, so defect detection will become one of the key issues in 2023. If the printing goes wrong, the whole model has to be discarded. That’s tolerable for a hobbyist, but becomes a black hole of spending on a large scale. The upcoming year might be rather fruitful in terms of developments aimed at reducing printing errors. There will be a lot of effort from market players to make 3D printing less wasteful.
 

We expect to see many interesting developments aimed at reducing human involvement in 3D printing. The focus will be more on automating the printing cycle.
 

There is a clear shift from a linear economy to a circular economy, and 3D technologies offer solutions to tackle such challenges as pollution and climate change. There will be an uptrend in sustainable 3D printing. How can the plastic from 3D printing be re-used? How can production waste be recycled for further use? Formnext 2022 showcased interesting development is this field: using scrap metal of sawdust for 3D printing.

Carlos Zwikker, Chief Commercial Officer, AM-Flow

Even given the uncertainties in the market at the moment, we remain optimistic and bullish for 2023. In 2023 we will see the further adoption of Additive Manufacturing as a reliable manufacturing technology. We will see a further morphing away from prototyping to on-demand production, from single numbers to custom series and mass customization. Additive Manufacturing is more and more becoming a mainstream choice for production facilities as printer technologies continue improvements, new materials are developed, and, above all, automation and digitization – with the risk of using buzzwords – are finally starting to impact costs, lead times, and to mitigate production risks.

Given the growing custom series production, we believe high speed – in seconds instead of minutes – in-line quality assessment will be the next big step in 2023, providing 100% verification and full traceability, allowing for statistical process control and capability studies – for example for the medical, automotive, and aerospace industries – while slashing the cost per part of quality control from tens of dollars to only cents.

Benoit Stoeux, Managing Director, KIMYA

At KIMYA, we believe that creating a strong ecosystem will be the key to accelerating the transition of additive manufacturing to production scale. That’s why KIMYA keeps forging strong partnerships with printer manufacturers such as Stratasys or AON3D. Our objective in 2023: to offer manufacturers’ customers new innovative and high-performance materials capable of meeting an ever-growing number of applications. 

Because growth and innovation can no longer be done at the expense of resource preservation, we are convinced at KIMYA it is essential to implement such technologies while limiting our CO2 footprint. That is why developing filaments based on recycled materials is a significant part of our roadmap for the coming decade.

François Leclerc, Program Manager, Creaform

3D printing remains a related field of activity for Creaform and 3D scanning. Although not directly connected to each other, both are part of the same ecosystem and used together in a great number of applications through CAD software design. Both 3D scanning and 3D printing technologies are growing at a significant rate year after year and are being used by more and more of the same businesses.

If 3D printing is the way out of CAD, 3D scanning is the way in, and so, although not directly correlated, as technology become more accessible, we see more and more collaboration between the two. 3D scanners and 3D printers are still relatively rarely bought together but getting the other usually becomes the logical step after getting either one.

Richard Gaignon, CEO, 3DCeram

The industrial world will be digital or not! This means remote monitoring, developments made with the help of artificial intelligence, production units networked on a global scale.

We are facing a fundamental challenge because digitalization is a game-changer that is leading us to rethink our business model. 

This is a necessity facing the crises we are going through, which highlight our weaknesses and which all countries are trying to deal with by seeking to relocate critical production (surgical masks when we were at the heart of the Covid crisis, semiconductors with the risk in Taiwan, etc.).

However, the world to come promises to be collaborative, with a new deal of globalization that will have to take into account, in addition to the parameters of international policies, a central parameter: the environmental footprint!

For many years at 3DCeram, we have firmly believed that 3D printing will be part of the new industrial revolution – and indeed it is if we consider that we are already in the digital revolution!

Manufacturing with digital means manufacturing with 3D printers! It is easy to imagine in the future printing farms that are global and established worldwide, i.e. production units that offer all technologies (SLA, SLM, Binder jetting, FFF, robocasting, etc.) and of course all types of materials (metals, polymers and ceramics of course)!

The idea would be to design the print file in a place in the world where the skills and availability are, and then to produce it in a print farm, located as close as possible to the end user. The aim is to minimize its environmental impact. This is a scenario that is happening in the short term.

Ma Jin-song, General Manager, UnionTech

In 2022, the 3D printing market has continued to transition from prototyping to manufacturing. Metals 3D printing has shown a strong penetration trend from aerospace to automobiles and the energy industry. In the non-metallic 3D printing market: the demand for small-batch printing became stronger and stronger, and many existing 3D printing technologies gained new strength.

Overall, the 3D printing market is brewing with new opportunities, and we expect that in 2023:

– The application and promotion of certain new materials and technologies will form the breakthroughs in industry application.

– Small-batch 3D printing will be further expanded and will gradually generate social influence.

– Relief from the pandemic impact will further accelerate the overall development of the industry.

Li Tao, Chairman & CEO, Shining 3D

We believe that combined with 3D printing technology, the era of digital transformation and upgrading is taking place. This is reflected in the development and changes in two aspects. One change is reflected by the application industry side, which is the digitalization empowering product design and manufacturing. Another change is reflected by the process chain side, which is the full-chain digital integration and development.

In terms of 3D printing applications, we are optimistic about the further large-scale application of 3D printing. In the past, 3D printing was mainly used for product development verification and the flexible production of some auxiliary tools. At present, we see that 3D printing technology is accelerating the popularity of high-performance product manufacturing in various fields, such as aviation, automobile and energy, injection molding, rapid production of dental models and clinical treatment tools, etc.

In terms of the process chain, the popularization of 3D printing products and technologies has also driven the rapid growth of upstream 3D scanning, modeling, design, and other solutions. Shining 3D is committed to providing customers with high-precision 3D digital solutions. Through high-precision 3D scanning equipment, Shining 3D helps users realize the quality control of the whole process of design, simulation, manufacturing, and testing. At the same time, the organic combination of 3D scanning and 3D printing promotes the digital transformation of all industries.

Gui Pei-yan, CEO, HeyGears

With the relaxing of covid restrictions and the changes to the economy in China, I believe the 3D printing industry will continue to usher in new development and progress in 2023, and the global 3D printing industry as a whole will continue to grow.

In the past, we have experienced and felt the fragility of traditional manufacturing supply chains. Today, the world is aware of 3D printing as an effective and more resilient way to build supply chains. In transforming and upgrading traditional industries to meet the trends of carbon reduction and sustainable development, the impact of 3D printing technology on production methods is further deepened. Coupled with the nature of 3D printing, which is digitalization, it further improves the level of intelligence and production efficiency. Overall, 3D printing will take deeper root in more application scenarios in the near future.

Jin Tian-shi,  Managing Director, Voxeljet China

With the end of the epidemic, local companies are gradually regaining confidence and increasing investment in advanced manufacturing technologies. The digital transformation of China’s manufacturing industry is underway.

For example, the technical route of 3D printing sand/investment molds combined with casting technology helps the foundry industry to upgrade. In 2023, we will see more and more companies use this technology combination to replace traditional lines.

In addition, voxeljet’s3D printing technology is widely used in the precision casting industry in Europe and America. With the breakthrough of surface treatment technology, this technology can be expected to be well accepted by more customers in China.

The 3D printing industry is entering the fast lane, and its remarkable performance is that the original workshop operation status is gradually transforming into automated production line status.

In the future, as more 3D printing processes mature and are more widely used, there will be a more robust ecosystem, providing a series of complete solutions from design to materials, post-processing, and automation.

I think that the main trend has been set, and 3D printing will become the core technology of the fourth industrial revolution, helping to realize carbon neutrality, and making human manufacturing activities more sustainable.

Chris Connery, Vice President Global Analysis and Research, CONTEXT

Forecasts for 2023 have turned cautious as fears of regional recessions loom large and the worries that the loosening of China’s zero-Covid policy may reduce domestic demand and lead to further supply-chain disruption. However, forecasts for key end-markets (including aerospace) and for key modalities – particularly Metal Powder Bed Fusion – remain strong. BLT and Eplus3D joined SLM Solutions and Velo3D to announce new large-format multi-laser metal systems to help meet this rising demand. Now that HP has fully launched their Metal Jet models and GE Additive is looking to commercialise their Series 3 products, Metal Binder Jetting machines may also help make 3D printing a more mainstream manufacturing process over the year to come. 

As was seen in 2022, growth is expected to be much higher in system revenues than in unit shipments with revenues now forecasted to grow +19% across all technologies for the year against a unit volume growth expectation of just +9%.

Roger Uceda, Technology Transfer Director, CIM UPC

2023 will be a year marked by the effects of inflation and high interest rates. In this scenario, many companies will be encouraged to take the leap to additive manufacturing as a method to manufacture plastic, metal or ceramics parts. In this sense, from CIM UPC we see that 2023 is presented as the year of great opportunities. The 3D Print Industry must be ready to accept the challenge and respond to the requirements of companies in terms of machines, materials, processes and human capital. In this sense the collaboration between the members of the entire 3D printing ecosystem is for us a key aspect for success. 

Roger Uceda, Technology Transfer Director CIM UPC. Photo via CIM UPC.
Roger Uceda, Technology Transfer Director CIM UPC. Photo via CIM UPC.

James DeMuth, CEO, Seurat Technologies

Great change takes time. Other than the introduction of more materials and a few more machine manufacturers coming onto the scene, it’s hard to say how different 2023 will be. 

Joan Horvath and Rich Cameron, co-founders, Nonscriptum LLC 

New open-source developments like the Voron and Klipper projects, and manufacturers like Bambu Lab have begun to create pressure to push the designs, firmware, and use of sensors forward, and the rest of the industry will need to move quickly to keep up. On the design front, AI-assisted 3D modeling has just begun to appear in late 2022, and we expect to see major advancements in this area in 2023 as well. And of course we want to see more use of printers to improve math education for all types of learners.

Aurélien Fussel, 3D Printing Program Manager + Additive Manufacturing Senior ExpertServices Operations, Alstom 

First off, 3D printing is being quicky adopted to create larger parts. Secondly, additive manufacturing is an industrial special process like welding and torque tightening. It requires qualified materials, validated parameters, and qualified resources. These three pillars must be included in industrial companies’ roadmaps as a prerequisite.

If your company is looking to deploy distributed manufacturing (to avoid customs taxes in a complex international context) and digital warehouses (to lower the hard inventory), 3D printing will be the most important technological brick to be implement for tomorrow’s challenges!

For 2023, more than ever, be curious, print larger and have fun!

Aurélien Fussel, 3D Printing Program Manager, Alstom. Photo via Alstom.
Aurélien Fussel, 3D Printing Program Manager, Alstom. Photo via Alstom.

Taso Arima, CEO and Co-Founder, IperionX

We are seeing significant momentum towards the development of sustainable, fully circular supply chains across global industry. Production via additive manufacturing methods such as 3D printing is a huge step in achieving sustainable production, largely via eliminating waste. In 2023 we expect industry to strive to take a step further, and manufacture via 3D printing using  100% recycled materials in an effort to create circular, closed loop supply chains.

Frank Roberts, President, 6K Additive

At 6K Additive, we continue to see a huge emphasis on sustainability. Being the first company to publish an LCA and hearing market feedback has underscored this trend. Our study brought customers out of the woodwork in 2022 looking to lower their carbon footprint in a very tangible, meaningful way (versus buying carbon offsets). We see this trend not only growing but accelerating in 2023. While customers are embracing the benefits of sustainability for materials, there is an added focus on quality. AM users are also doing their due diligence to ensure that quality is not sacrificed. In 2023 we will see customers qualifying sustainable materials for critical applications with the quality tests and data to guarantee there is no sacrifice in quality.

Second, we are also seeing a very high interest in refractory metals continuing beyond 2022 levels.  LPBF has progressed and companies are looking at applications that require much more heat resistance as an example. Materials like C103, tungsten, rhenium, and others are showing very high growth. However, many come with a high price point, and customers are looking for an organization that can deliver both production volumes and costs with efficiencies in the manufacturing process that doesn’t drive up costs. We’re seeing a high rate of interactions and RFQs with hypersonics, military, defense, space, and even medical customers, and we see this as a focus area for additive manufacturing in 2023.

Albert Sutiono, Director, Singapore General Manager, MolyWorks Materials/Continuum Singapore

Many predicted the global economy may shrink and enter recession due to unprecedented prolonged high inflation rate. Many companies, including AM, may choose to conserve cash and hence slow down any new capital investment. This may result in the lower-than-expected AM industry’s growth rate in 2023. AM companies with a high debt-to-equity ratio, especially small and medium-sized ones, may experience financial distress that may lead to liquidation or acquisition, hence more consolidation is expected.

Ian Falconer, Founder, Fishy Filaments

Technologically we’re starting to see some maturity in metals in terms of size and productivity, but that has not yet come with metallurgical diversity – so none of the really complex alloys, and for good reason – they often require specific cooling pathways to allow recrystallisation and that works against the fundamentals of AM.

There needs to be a step change in how AM addresses metallurgical diversity if it is to really meet its geometrical potential.

Don’t get me wrong, there is plenty of space to grow into in the short term but in the mid-long term engineers will be frustrated that their pallet of metal alloys and intermetallics are still not available through AM.

I keep expecting to see university papers that set the scene, but they keep not coming.

It’s disappointing because back in 2015, when I was working on low-cost production of novel alloy powders for AM there was encouragement from a number of printer makers who were seemingly working on it too. That cohort has largely evaporated and been replaced by new comers working almost exclusively on productivity.

So good progress on maturity but it’s coming with a narrowed vision.

Sustainable materials in polymer-based AM is now an established trend, but its mostly in relatively low mechanical function polymers with the paradigm reflecting volume over value.

Back in 2017 Fishy Filaments induced an innovation cascade in recycled nylon that is bringing that particular material back as a more sustainable alternative to virgin nylon.

What I expect to see is closed loops being established for a wider range of higher specification polymers and for fibre fill technologies to become a bigger focus as a means of countering some of the downsides of recycled polymers.

Structurally recycling has been a generalist activity with respect to material diversity. This limits the value that it can return.

The super-focussed, high-value recycling route fits far better with AM at a systemic level and we need to break out of mixed polymer streams, co-polys, and hidden recipes to fully enable recycling as a means of upping sector-wide sustainability via closed-loop manufacturing and the circular economy.

At Fishy Filaments, we use mono-materiality as a key enabling concept that links production with design with closed loops, and we’ll be saying more about this later.

Robert Bush, Founder CEO, Rivelin Robotics

I think there’s five key factors causing major change to the industry in 2023: (1) Geopolitical instability from 2 major global events causing a shift to local manufacturing / reshoring (2) Labour shortages (3) Labour cost rises (4) Material & energy cost rises (5) Demand for better engineered (specifically sustainable) products. And with great challenges comes great opportunities to introduce solutions that do things smarter and more efficiently. One of several technologies that can help is industrial automation that’s more flexible, quicker to deploy and more precise than ever before.

Franco Cevolini, CEO, CRP Technology

The global economic situation and the uncertainty that leads to the political situation worldwide do not obstruct additive manufacturing expansion. This is mainly due to the fact of considering it as an alternative to traditional manufacturing techniques involving strict plans and large volumes.

Given the international scenario diversification is a crucial point of our strategy. We are always evaluating new technologies and financing new projects to broaden our offer and our geographical expansion.

Talking about AM trends from a purely technological perspective, metal continues to drive great attention. Despite this, we see a steady increase in requirements for end-use parts realized in reinforced composites which gain a good industry segment.

The data for 2022 confirms the increase of the Polyamide reinforced segment with a consolidated share in the Additive Market. 

Stephan Beyer, Co-founder & Chief Venture Officer, nFrontier

AM  is and will become an integral part of manufacturing alongside other, more traditional tools like CNC, drilling, molding etc. The customer interactions are shifting from R&D to engineers which has numerous implications like a strong focus on part performance, costs, delivery times and more professional procurement incl. purchasing departments. Today, engineers are not only well aware of AM, but also mostly well educated. They are now able to express their requirements in great detail and are very specific in what their needs are. Spec sheets, downtimes, material quality are just a few among a long list of KPI that engineers will use to asses an AM technology.

Today, for each AM technology you will find a at least 5 to 10 machine vendors, material suppliers or software tools. Differentiation in the market is key to survive either by technologiecal advantage, costs advantage or by focusing 100% on a niche. This is all no news, but the AM industry has largely ignored these trends and stayed inside their AM bubble. Overpromising fueled by over-funding has been a common phenomena which is disappearing supported by collapsing valuation of AM stock prices.    

Nonetheless, AM future is bright, but in a different context. The context is creating customer value by leveraging the technological and business potential which AM provides. The challenge is to identify business cases where AM contributes. The challenge is that the vast majority of those business cases do not exist today, they have to be created, build and executed. And they all start with a new way of designing products…either by hand or by AI.       

John Olhoft, President, LulzBot

As manufacturers continue to see the benefits of adding low-cost 3D printers to production settings in 2023, I believe we will see an increase in manufacturing use. In turn this will lead to more 3D printing applications with a practical nature such as one-off jigs, fixtures, and molding.

John E. Barnes, Managing Director, and Laura Ely, Director of Programs, The Barnes Global Advisors

Our hope for the future of 3D printing is for it to become less special and instead be treated as a key part of manufacturing.  Series production is happening, and more qualifications are progressing.  We would like to see if Additive Manufacturing (AM) can be used to solve 2023 problems rather than if AM can solve 1975 problems, meaning designing for the process rather than shoving it an already designed solution.  Automation, digital workflow, and distributed manufacturing will help solve the  problems of 2023:  Skills, lack of workforce, AM productivity, and supply chain (and to a lesser extent, domestic supply issues).

Steven Camilleri,  CTO and Co-Founder, SPEE3D

We believe that sustainability should be the biggest focus for the 3D printing industry in 2023 and it is the responsibility of disruptive technologies (like ours) to be a part of the solution. Sustainability is one of the greatest challenges facing manufacturing – of the many materials humanity work with, metal stands out due its infinite recyclability; recycled metal can be just as strong as new, whereas materials like polymers inevitably reduce in quality every time they are recycled. The production of recycled metal feedstock also consumes much less energy than it would the first time it is refined. For example, SPEE3D has developed a patented technology that allows rapid, in-situ production of metal parts with high energy efficiency. The technology works just as well with recycled feedstocks. This allows us to deploy sustainable manufacturing solutions that results in reduced energy consumption during operation and embedded energy consumption per part. Our metal 3D printing technology can not only create metal parts quickly, but also sustainably, in a closed loop. 

Joshua M. Pearce, Ph.D., John M. Thompson Chair in Information Technology and Innovation, Western University 

Remember all the hype about how everyone would have a 3D printer and be printing out products at home? Everyone still does not have a 3D printer, but it looks like the 3D printing industry has finally been catching up to the hype. Low-cost 3D printers that are actually pretty good proliferate with over 2 million sold/year and the free and open source 3D printable designs you can use with a printer now number in the millions. There is also some evidence normal people are starting to print their own products. In a study we did last year we analyzed the top 100 most popular designs posted on the YouMagine repository. Overall, for the 81% of open source designs that provided economic savings over Amazon, the total savings for the 3D printing community is more than $35 million. That was just 100 popular products. There are millions more. We can expect this trend to continue to accelerate in 2023 as the number of open source 3D printable designs continues to proliferate and more people join the 3D printing community. 

Clare Difazio, Head of Product Strategy, E3D Online

Despite a downturn in the global market looking likely, we expect solid growth in the consumer market for desktop 3D printers. The desktop market has flattened in the last 18 months and this is partly attributed to the level of expertise required creating a ceiling of demand. Breaking through that ceiling, several exciting new printers are expected to come to market throughout the year which will mark a step up in both usability and performance. The 2012 dream of ‘a 3D printer in every home’ is still a long way off, but we’re getting near the point where every home contains a product which was at the very least prototyped on one. That’s a remarkable shift from 10 years prior.

2022 was a year we began to see a lot of consolidation in the market, and that’s a trend we expect to see more of in the year ahead. At the opposite end of the spectrum, there are more and more start-ups with new and interesting technologies joining the market. We’re looking forward to seeing what 2023 brings.

Alan “Pooch” Puccinelli, Founder, Repkord LLC

I believe the most exciting developments in the coming year and beyond will be attributed to better software systems to control the machines and motion systems we already have. AI can potentially play a big role here but it’s pretty clear that we’ve only just scratched the surface in optimizing toolpaths to limit waste, increase speed, strength, aesthetics, and other factors. 

Strategies for the most effective way to produce a part require more insight into what the goals for that finished product ultimately are. With a bit more information and analysis of part geometry a lot of improvement can be made to how it is produced. Slicers and other software that start to take actual geometries into account and understand the part and its critical features will lead the way. I’m excited to see how this all evolves in the years to come.

Ao Danjun, CEO, Creality

We are long-term bullish on the 3D printing market and expect a growth of more than 20% in terms of the global 3D printing market size, in which the share of consumables will increase. Creality’s 3D printing technology has been widely applied to product development, design verification, and industrial small-batch production, facilitating cost reduction and efficiency improvement in industrial production. In the future, major breakthroughs will happen in high-speed printing for higher production efficiency, bringing a better 3D printing experience while shortening the printing time.

Thomas Batigne, CEO, Lynxter

Application specific solutions. A.M. solution providers gained in maturity, and growth opportunities are hidden in applications where A.M. is just a part of the package. To tackle this growth and spread A.M., solution providers will have to provide embedded solution for the user workflow. Somehow, there is only a fraction of users who want/need to become a 3D printing expert. OEM must team up with application-oriented players to foster adoption, a great move for the final user experience.

Ralf Anderhofstadt, Head of Centre of Competence AM, Daimler Truck & Author “Disruptive 3D Printing” 

In my opinion, the move from AM into series production will progress across industries in 2023 and the positive added value of 3D printing will be even more apparent. As early as 2022, AM was able to demonstrate its potential in the series in terms of disrupted supply chains, combined with the great benefits in terms of sustainability. With reference to the next few years, advancing digitalisation will also be a major challenge with regard to AM. The advantages of the Digital Twin are already being used in combination with digital warehousing. But the big deal lies in digital rights management. And for this purpose, the companies (machine manufacturers, software manufacturers, IP owners, OEMs, customers, etc.) must cooperate even more closely within the framework of a partnership. If this can be implemented, completely new opportunities for a successful future will arise from an economic and, in particular, ecological point of view. 

Marc Kunst, Manager Sales & Business Development, Bond3D

In the coming years, we will even more see a shift where conventionally manufactured materials, like metal, will be replaced by high-performance plastics and polymers like PEEK. This shift is mainly driven by the need for companies to create stronger but lighter, chemically resistant, and leak-tight parts for critical applications in the energy, medical, and semiconductor industries.

This will ensure that additive manufacturing will continue to grow in marketshare on the short- and longterm by breaking the boundaries of what seen as technically impossible a couple of years ago. This will be pushed by the drive for innovation across industries, and supported by very much needed guidelines and printing standards which are rapidly evolving in all markets, thus giving AM a more mature and adopted status in the manufacturing landscape.

Angel Llavero, CEO, Meltio

We believe at Meltio that 2023 will be the year of consolidation among the companies developing the different additive manufacturing technologies in the market. In recent months we have witnessed processes of concentration of companies, workforce reduction, industrial relocations, price increases due to the impact of global inflation, and increased production costs due to the uncertainty of the war in Ukraine and the slow supply of raw materials after the hard years of the Covid pandemic. 

The global 3D printing industry is continuing to mature. Messy business conditions add complexity and consolidation to an industry moving away from its roots in labs and maker spaces and more into boardrooms and stock exchanges.

Faced with this situation of global uncertainty, Meltio and our unique wire laser metal 3D printing technology (DED) foresees a continuous development of innovations, especially in our industrial segment of metal additive manufacturing, and to give a response increasingly focused on reliability and to offer our customers a disruptive technology that helps them to reduce costs and participate in the industrial revolution that metal additive manufacturing and, in our case the wire laser metal 3D printing technology, allows them to successfully achieve their parts compared to traditional manufacturing methods. 

At Meltio, we end the year with our sights set on new challenges to remain an indispensable partner that enables industrial local metal parts production at the point of need and cost reductions. Our wire-laser metal 3D printing technology (DED) has become a reliable partner for applications such as material research, prototyping, tooling, final parts, and repairs across various industries, from defense and mining to automotive and consumer goods. During 2022, we continued our commitment to innovation. We launched a new metal wire materials range to complete our portfolio with stainless steels, tool steel, nickel alloys, Invar, mild steel, and titanium.

Last year at Meltio, we presented another two innovations: Meltio Horizon Software and Laser Calibration System. Meltio is currently developing its software ecosystem to allow the generation of 5-axis G-codes. And for 2023, we will continue to bring to the market and our customers’ innovations maintaining our company philosophy: to democratize and make metal 3D printing technology easy to use for all industries.

Ramsey Stevens, CEO,  nano3Dprint

While last year gave us 3D printed houses and news of a 3D printed basecamp on Mars, 2023 will see increases in the use of smaller, nanoscale, multi-material 3D printing with direct-write technology, particularly in the healthcare, sports and automotive industries.

Direct write is a manufacturing method by which a microdispenser moves over the substrate and lays down the exact amount of materials needed for the print. Multiple materials dispensed in layers create complex shapes with metals, composites and ceramics; the process can be utilized to create electronic, biomedical and sensing applications.

With benefits like lower cost of production, reduced waste and shorter build times, direct-write manufacturing results in new, smaller smart objects.

The healthcare industry will see the benefits of creating medical devices, wearables and other monitoring systems with direct-write technology. This technology dispenses inks and high-viscosity pastes, providing new usage opportunities, thereby improving clinical care. Patient health may be tracked continuously with embedded sensors, and 3D printing electronics will help researchers get to market faster.

In the sports world, some athletes’ gear incorporates sensors that monitor thousands of critical moments like measuring heart rate or determining which of the two neck-and-neck automotive race cars crossed the finish line first. Studies about athlete health and equipment safety is resulting in an increased use of embedded sensors across many sports.

While the automotive industry has utilized 3D printing technology for creating custom prototypes, direct-write technologies will enable manufacturers to design, test and deploy new, smaller parts at a faster rate. Such parts may include complex sensors and strain gauges that will further optimize auto design and safety, thereby lowering costs for car manufacturers without compromising quality.

This year will see a higher demand for creating nanoscale objects via 3D printing across multiple sectors.

Mohsen Seifi, VP of Global Advanced Manufacturing Programs, and Martin White, Director of Technical Operations – UK, ASTM International’s Additive Manufacturing Center of Excellence

The future of additive and advanced manufacturing will rely on how organizations globally can find economic value to address major issues such as sustainability, supply chain challenges, and increasing productivity. AM is in route to becoming a mature technology that can be embraced by all major industrial sectors. We will see the most impact on sectors that are quick to adapt, address the regulatory requirements, and demonstrate value propositions. Some of the major hurdles to this journey are cost of materials and technology, workforce development, compliance to standards, and cultural shifts across the service sector.

In particular, the year ahead will likely see high levels of collaboration to drive consensus on requirements for critical applications, reducing the burden on supply chains to meet multiple sources of requirements. This will help us as an industry put more focus on the advanced capabilities of AM.

Automation and integration of key enabling technologies, such as robotics, AI, and simulation, will significantly increase the velocity of adoption across the entire manufacturing sector. AM is now seen as an enabling technology that solves difficult engineering challenges, such as the transition to hydrogen-based fuels in aviation, rather than a singular goal of mastering AM itself.

Dr.-Ing. Vincent Morrison, CEO, AIM3D GmbH

I see a lot of very interesting new approaches regarding the production of small and medium series parts (up to 100.000 parts/year) with metal as well as polymer 3D printing. For the 3D printing companies this will result in a higher demand for more productive machines and cheaper materials as the machine throughput must rise in order to lower the costs per part.

A lot of industry tier 1 and 2 suppliers have now developed a good knowledge of the possibilities and limitations of the AM processes. Furthermore, researchers like Faye Mills at the Manufacturing Technology Centre (MTC) in Coventry support companies, which are new to the AM world, to enable them a fast start with a lot of expert knowledge.

Industry and researchers have the knowledge to avoid support structures and the right ways to perform a cost-effective post processing on the parts. Therefore, AM has become more and more of a process step within the production chain and is no longer seen as the one and only process step.

The industry also managed to transfer this knowledge from the process and prototype level to the design phase and into the communication with the end customers. With the help of pellet printers, companies can develop their protoype from scratch to series production with the same materials and machines. This is made possible by the new class of industrial pellet material extrusion printer systems. This not only closes the development circle for polymers from prototype to series for the first time in AM industry, but also enables the growth of the numbers of AM series productions in the future.

Regarding the printing process, these pellet MEX printers are very similar to the well-known filament MEX/FFF process. For this reason, they can quickly be adapted to the industry. Furthermore, these pellet printers will not only reduce the costs per parts but will extend the number of available polymer materials in the AM world from several hundred to more than 10,000. Also, a lot of these printers can print 2 or 3 materials simultaneously in one print job. These is a perfect solution for nearly every industrial component. For example, you can print a polyamide 6 part with 50% glass fibre and a TPE sealing with a soluble support material.

Regarding the AIM3D CEM process, we have learned in the past years that our pellet printing pioneers designed an extruder that can not only handle this broad range of materials but can also achieve superior performance. This results in good mechanical performance, high gas and fluid tightness at low wall thicknesses and good electrical insulation. All these points are proven by automotive and aerospace tier 1 suppliers.

Read more:

What does the future of 3D printing for the next ten years hold?

Did the experts get the trends in 3D printing for last year right?

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