Industry Accomplishments, New Materials, and Where Do We Go from Here?
Disclaimer: Safety is the number one priority when using 3D Printers for any purpose, so please keep projects safe and perform them at your own risk.
2020 has certainly been a unique year in many ways. The pandemic has caused extensive grief to some areas, but the 3D Printing industry is, thankfully, not one of them. 3D Printer sales are thriving for both home and commercial needs. 3D Printing has proven instrumental in the current shut down of many areas of the world as it allows for social distancing and automation. On the home front, 3D Printers provide children and parents with an artistic outlet and a means to make necessary items around the home that would otherwise be inaccessible at this current juncture in time. 3D Printers are essential and have had a notable impact on many industries this year.
Although plastic based 3D Printer materials still reign supreme in many industries, we are seeing a resurgence in new materials within the 3D Printing industry. Just last year there was an estimated 1700 materials available for 3D Printers and today the industry notes 2245. That is a significant increase and among these new materials is a unique implant grade PEEK filament.
This new material meets the strict requirements of ASTM F2026, the basis of which surgical grade materials are based upon. The new materials is available for maxillofacial surgeries as well as orthopedics. Additionally, other medical grade materials such as the PoliM3D, an antibacterial grade filament and ABS Granulate, a biological compliant material are making supreme impact in the medical world.
Self Driving Cars
Although self driving cars are not a completely new concept, their involvement within the 3D Printing industry is relatively new. At this years CES expo in Las Vegas, there were many items on the table that made a supreme impact on those in attendance, including the new STREAM ULTRA SC 3D Printer and the Peel 2 CAD 3D Scanner, but these new systems seemed to pale in comparison to the introduction of the self driving car presented by Rinspeed at the event.
We are used to seeing almost bubble style self driving vehicles on the road from time to time, but Rinspeed did something a little different. Instead of designing a whole vehicle, they instead designed a self driving base that allowed for a personalised pod to be placed on the chassis. Additionally, this car is comprised of about 30% 3D Printed components making it lighter and even more efficient than standard self driving cars. However, you are not able to go out and buy your own customised Rinspeed self driving vehicle. As of right now, it remains just a concept car, hopefully, just for the moment.
An Emphasis on DIY
3D Printers have certainly made an impact on the manufacturing industry and brought additive manufacturing into the forefront, but all 3D Printing innovations are not based on commercial manufacturing needs. Desktop 3D Printers are making a supreme impact as well.
A few months ago, the world as we know it changed dramatically. With the onset of the pandemic we are still dealing with this late in 2020, entire countries shut down. Manufacturing facilities stopped production in many areas and essentially, those left at home had to fend for themselves in a lot of ways. Children came home, parents began working from home, and going out on the town for a night, along with other forms of entertainment, vanished in seemingly one day.
However, even though we were unable to connect with those we love like we would normally do, all was not lost. Humans are remarkably adaptable and when we are unable to leave and get the things we want, 3D Printers give us the ability to make them. Creativity these days is at an all time high which is excellent for the 3D Printing industry. We have more time on our hands and many people are choosing to spend that time wisely by coming up with new and innovative ideas to help their families and friends through this pandemic.
The above image is just a very simple version of what you can do with your own desktop 3D Printer to maintain a little fun while going through this current pandemic. What is best about 3D Printers is their ultimate versatility they bring to the table. Circuit boards and mechanics can be included in your DIY project to take it to the next level. Instead of using the fruit or vegetables above, construct your own motor and try out making your own 3D Printed plane or racecar. The possibilities are truly endless and you have much more time on your hands today than in recent years.
2020 has been a wild ride and we are not even completely done with the year. It has had its problems, but in the world of 3D Printers, it has been a banner year for innovation and sales. If you have yet to purchase your own 3D Printer, what are you waiting for. Open up a world of creativity for you and your family to help find the fun in our current global situation.