By Cullen Hilkene, CEO, 3Diligent
We’ve turned the corner to 2018. What will this year hold for 3D Printing technology?
First, the arrival of extrusion metal printing. Today's extrusion printers are the most prevalent and, arguably, user-friendly 3D Printers in the market. Now, after years of there being zero metal extrusion printers, there will be two in the new year from Desktop Metal and Markforged. These technologies promise new materials and a higher degree of user friendliness for metal printing.
Second, will be stories about other metal injection molding-based 3D Printing systems that are focused on bringing down the price of printing. Each of these, like extrusion metal printing, will offer a different take on building up a part “scaffold” and then sintering it in an oven as a secondary step to create a part.
Third, will be an increasing recognition that these metal injection molding (MIM)-based systems don’t displace existing 3DP technologies but instead will target the market for molding and machining parts. These lower cost systems will gain some traction with traditional metal 3D Printer users like aerospace and medical, but where they will truly make their mark are in industries like industrial products, automotive, and oil and gas.
Fourth, will be the expansion of additive manufacturing as a production technology. More and more announcements will come from the Food and Drug Administration and Federal Aviation Administration that parts have been approved for production use. News of the success of these parts in market will start leaking out as well.
Fifth, there will be more buzz about increased speed. This will start with headlines from the new products that HP and Carbon are launching. And that will lead to incumbents who have been chasing them to highlight their successes. In addition to these known products, there will be more news about some of the exciting next-generation technologies that are coming from research labs.
These are the top five trends I see coming for 2018, and they all bode well for the year to be another great one for 3D Printing.