Trends of 2018 and What the Future Holds
3D Printing technology has adapted so well into today’s world that it can often be quite difficult to determine whether a figure was sculpted by hand or with the use of a 3D Printer. What began with the first 3D Printer in 1984 has blossomed into an industry that reaches into every portion of society. It is easy to believe that the 3D Printing industry has come as far as it possibly can, but as we all know new horizons are always being explored bringing about new materials and technology for the 3D Printers themselves. This year we have seen many new advances and we can expect more innovative technologies for the future. Here are some of the newest trends in the 3D Printing Industry.
Software Integration Technology
For many years, the problem with 3D Printers was that there were few adaptive software options for the industry. That has since changed as more software companies are adapting their programs to be more 3D Printer friendly. Thus far, we have seen Autodesk, with their release of Netfabb with both subtractive and additive technology adapted into its program, along with Solidworks and their release of their additive software promoting end to end design with the final manufacturing process of spectacularly detailed 3D Printed models.
This trend has proven to add a great deal of value to the industry. As more software design companies improve their integration into the 3D Printing industry, the entire process becomes more user friendly. Designers need not reach across design programs and learn each one. Soon they will be able to simply utilise the one they are most comfortable with. The trend also opens up doors for the industry to be more competitive by offering additive technology as opposed to a one size fits all mentality within the 3D Printing industry.
It is no secret that 3D Printers are traditionally much slower than a standard flat image printer. The complicated structure of a 3D image is what adds to the time. The 3D Printer, itself, must calculate multiple angles, bends, curves, and account for negative space to bring about a full model. This process has been known to take several hours for simple models or even days or weeks, with human assembly, for the more complicated 3D Printed images.
Desktop 3D Printers have been traditionally plagued by high levels of vibration within the unit that requires a much slower manufacturing speed to produce a quality model. That is beginning to change, however, as more advanced technology is brought to the table. Faster speeds mean that the 3D Printing industry will be more adapted to competing with the “Now” world we live in today in which the vast majority of people want products as fast as possible. New 3D Printers are adapted with anti-vibration technology that allows for the materials to be printed at a higher rate of speed without marring the delicate design structure by vibration.
Metal Materials a Viable Option
For the 3D Printing industry, plastics has been the number one go to material. They are relatively cheap and faster to print. This too is beginning to change. 3D Printer materials are being integrated into the industry at an alarming rate. It was back in 2017 that the inclusion of metal materials first began to flourish, but today, this trend has taken on a whole new life.
The advantage of 3D Printing metal is that the manufacturer can use the same machine to prototype and manufacturing the actual model, image, or piece to be sold. The inclusion of metal broadens the spectrum of what can be manufactured, allowing for more durable products. It takes out the middle man, thereby potentially making the manufacturing process more cost effective.
What the Future Holds
The 3D Printing industry is at an all time high. If materials, such as asteroid metals, are utilised as a resource, there truly is no limit to what heights may be achieved from this highly adaptive technology. The future of 3D Printing is bright with an endless stream of new talent, materials, and machines being manufactured each day.
3D Printing has found the ability to take out the middle man of manufacturing and put manufacturing possibilities into the hands of both average citizens and smaller manufacturing firms. That gives power to the design world rather than limit it to what can be mass produced. We can expect to see much more additive technology along with a surge of more intricate designs in the coming years. There is truly no limit to the 3D Printing industry and I, for one, am looking forward to seeing what is coming up for 2019.