From auto makers to industrial companies, manufacturers are looking at how additive manufacturing, or 3D printing, can streamline its processes, decrease costs, and more.
“As industrial 3D printers go from stand-alone systems, used mostly for prototyping, tooling and single part production to becoming the core systems within integrated digital mass production lines, a number of opportunities are expected to emerge in the transformation of the factory of tomorrow,” said market research firm SmartTech said.
The market is growing substantially. In fact, Research and Markets forecasts that the global market for 3D printing metals, a key ability for manufactures, will reach a value of $12 billion by the year 2028.
On November 1, Markforged, which designs and sells end to end 3D print solutions, announced that it has finished a $30 million Series C round of funding with support from Siemens-backed venture firm next47, Microsoft Ventures, and Porsche Automobil Holding SE (Porsche SE).
"This has far reaching implications for our target industries, from automotive and aerospace to healthcare and energy,” said Lak Ananth, managing partner at Siemens next47. “We see customers embedding Markforged into their product development and production processes, tremendously improving speed to market and addressing new opportunities in their industries."
The company produces strong parts out of the entire range of materials including plastic, carbon fiber, and metal. The technology promises a variety of advantages to manufacturers including:
- Prototyping: 3D printers, which cost 10% of existing solutions, produces metal parts 50 times faster and 20 times. Prototypes take days rather than months.
- Ramping: By leveraging printer farms with thousands of networked devices, manufactures can create products at scale for production.
- Assembly: Faster, stronger, and lighter, 3D printed carbon fiber parts enable on-demand assembly lines and bring businesses closer to the factory.
"As cloud services shorten development cycles for software engineers, so too is 3D printing accelerating innovation in the physical world," said Matthew Goldstein, partner, Microsoft Ventures. ‘
Educators are also supporting additive manufacturing. Praxair, an industrial gas company, announced that it will be offering in-kind grants to select North American universities through its surface technologies business. The grants will give the winners Praxair Surface Technologies’ TruForm metal powder, which is designed specifically for additive manufacturing applications. Praxair will also provide material testing and consultation.
Take a look at the infographic, from Morphedo, below for some of the benefits and market predictions for 3D printing. Then, let us know in the comments section how you think additive manufacturing will impact your supply chain.
— Hailey Lynne McKeefry, Editor in Chief, EBN