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Accelerating 3D Printing from Prototype to Production

by Pete Basiliere  |  November 21, 2017  |  Submit a Comment

Formnext is a leading indicator of where the industry is headed — up.

This year’s exhibition had 50% more 3D print technology providers (470 from 33 countries), 100% more hall space (two expansive floors of equipment) and 60% more attendees (21,500 total) than the 2016 event. Moreover, from what I could see in the aisles — and which I confirmed with several exhibitors — many, many groups of people were in attendance.

The number of these groups — 3, 4, 5 people — stood out for me. I have been to 2D and 3D print exhibitions for over 30 years. Never had I noticed so many small groups of co-workers. This is a qualitative point, but an important one nevertheless: When 3, 4 or 5 people leave work for a day or two, with the associated travel costs and the work left undone back at the company, then they must be serious prospects. They are not strolling along, looking to see the latest hardware but actively considering either the purchase of a 3D printer or of engaging a 3D print service bureau.

A few other observations to help you evaluate the 3D printer market and opportunities:

  • “From Prototyping to Production” was Formnext’s unofficial theme — many vendors displayed systems designed to produce higher volumes in, to varying degrees, an automated fashion. Among them were:

Additive Industries took a clean sheet approach to designing its new “Product Removal Module.” The unit takes the completed build plate, flips it over, and uses a band saw to cut the parts loose, allowing them to drop softly into a foam-lined tray. The build plate is then removed and milled for reuse.

Using low cost Metal Injection Molding (MIM) powder, Desktop Metal’s “single pass jetting” (SPJ) process reportedly will deliver speeds of up to 8,200 cubic centimeters/hour or 100 times faster than many powder bed fusion systems.

EOS’ new P 500 polymer powder bed fusion 3D printer with a claimed cost per part that is 30% less and a build speed that is twice as fast as its P 396.

HP’s new 4210 Multi Jet Fusion system shifts the “break-even point” at which additive manufacturing is more cost-effective than conventional manufacturing to 110,000 parts.

Cross Over Slide - Symposium 2017 w title and source


Mass Portal’s Dynasty AMS enables short run 3D printed plastic production by integrating up to 10 material extrusion printers, all controlled by its FabControl Printfarm Management Software.

SLM Solutions’ monster SLM 800 with a build envelope of 500 x 280 x 850mm and incorporating up to four 700w lasers. Twenty have been ordered by a single Asian energy industry company, an order worth at least EUR 37 million.

XJet is “going out into the real world,” taking its patented technology that prints nanoparticle inks or fluids for the build and support materials out of the lab. The first Carmel 1400 system is running at Oerlikon citim in Germany. A second system will ship to Youngstown Business Incubator in the USA for installation in January 2018.

  • Stereolithography is becoming more widespread — numerous exhibitors with a strangely common emphasis on the dental industry in their presentations. One provider was noticeably absent — Carbon. A new provider — Cubicure — claims its “hot lithography” 3D printer will have a range of materials to rival Carbon’s.
  • Ceramics are the material of the moment. Which is not to say other materials were not present, but that more providers are offering ceramics. Tucked into the Voxeljet booth was Johnson Matthey, a multinational firm specializing in ceramics and catalytics, which built its own 3D printer based on Voxeljet’s technology and is now offering a 3D printing service as well as producing ceramics for its own use.

The 3D printing market is rapidly maturing as the myriad of 3D printing technologies evolve, disrupting business models in a wide variety of industries. As Formnext demonstrated, 3D printing has become an established set of technologies and is on the cusp of having broad impacts across the value chain enterprises, supply chains and buyers.

Category: 3d-printing  additive-manufacturing  advanced-manufacturing  

Tags: 3-d-print  3d-print  3d-print-service-bureaus  3d-printer  3d-systems  additive-manufacturing  additive3-industries  binder-jetting  bioprinter  bioprinting  business-model  carbon3d  ceramic  cubicure  desktop-metal  envisiontec  eos  formlabs  formnext  hot-lithography  hp  hp-inc  johnson-matthey  markforged  mass-portal  multi-jet-fusion  rd  slm  stereolithography  stratasys  xjet  xyzprinting  

Pete Basiliere
Research Vice President
12 years at Gartner
18 years IT Industry

Mr. Basiliere provides research-based insights on 3D printing and digital printing hardware, software and materials. Mr. Basiliere's Maverick research coined the term Generation AI, people born after 2010 who will not know a world without application intelligence in their lives. Read Full Bio

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