Materialise weighs in on 3D printing trends for 2021

Published on December 15, 2020 by Carlota V.
3D printing trends for 2021

We told you last week about the 3D printing trends that shaped the industry in 2020. As we mark entry into the 4th decade of 3D printing in 2021, major trends that have been forming will take shape and come to fruition in the years to come. Materialise, has revealed what it believes the key trends to be, starting with three trends: “Going back to the drawing board to rethink manufacturing; enabling the personalization of not only products, but also 3D printers themselves; and creating new solutions, fast.”

This year, the COVID-19 crisis showed that AM can step up and provide meaningful solutions to emerging challenges. Until now however, these solutions had not truly played to the strengths of the technology. In fact, the value of AM lies in being able to create things that no other manufacturing method can. AM’s ability to customize, to print with fewer components and with less waste, means that it can ensure solutions that are flexible and that operate with sustainability at their core. The key to a strong legacy for the industry is to continue finding meaningful applications that take advantage of these qualities and to bring a greater awareness to all that AM has to offer. Fried Vancraen, Materialise CEO and Founder comments, “As companies realize that they need to do things differently, AM empowers them to make a difference.”

Image via Materialise

Rethinking manufacturing

The COVID-19 crisis has forced us to rethink the status quo. We talked extensively about the role AM can play to strengthen weakened supply chains, and more generally its ability to provide more agility and innovation during the production process. Materialise gives the example of Airbus, which recently revealed plans to accelerate the development of hydrogen-powered commercial jets and skip over the development of hybrid engines entirely. This bold jump means that by 2035, the world could see the first zero-emission, climate-neutral aircraft. Technologies like AM can play a big part in realizing these types of innovative concepts. Materialise CTO, Bart Van der Schueren comments: “AM frees designers from the constraints and limitations of traditional manufacturing technologies. As a result, AM allows us to create performance, weight-saving, time and cost advantages.

Offering customization

AM’s power to offer customization at scale has been discussed for a long time now – and we’re getting closer and closer to this reality. Indeed, “it is generally known and accepted that a unique and distinguishing characteristic of 3D printing is that it significantly reduces the cost of customization of products,” explains Executive Chairman, Peter Leys. He adds: “What is less known and often overlooked is the importance of empowering engineers and operators to also personalize and optimize the printing process as such.” Therefore, each application should require a specific 3D printing process to take full advantage of cost and speed reductions. 2021 could be the start of this movement according to Materialise.

An accelerated adoption of AM

Some companies started the AM adoption process ten years ago. Today, they are well-positioned to make greater shifts to the technology. However, companies new to additive manufacturing are faced with some important barriers to entry. Knowledge and cost of the technology are factors that often discourage businesses to invest in 3D printing. The emergence of service providers has democratized the adoption of 3D printing and encouraged companies to test and take advantage of AM in the short-term too. Materialise believes that consultancy services will become key to guiding the use and integration of the technology: “Consultancy services can help minimize the risk of such big investments and accelerate the timelines by sharing their expert knowledge of what the technology can and can’t do, and the right manufacturing method needed for each unique case.”

What do you think the trends in the 3D printing industry will be? Let us know in a comment below or on our Facebook and Twitter pages! Sign up for our free weekly Newsletter, all the latest news in 3D printing straight to your inbox!

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