Independent global research has revealed that AM has carved out a place of its own in today’s production processes. Industrial 3D printing specialist Essentium, Inc. has announced the first in a series of findings of its fourth annual study. This newest research shows r that the use of large-scale AM has more than doubled in the past year for 86 percent of manufacturing companies.
The survey results show that AM is here to stay and that it has now evolved well beyond prototyping alone.
According to Blake Teipel, CEO of Essentium, additive technology has matured to the point where manufacturers around the world can digitally print parts as they need them at speed, scale, and economics that challenge traditional methods.
The number of companies that have shifted to using AM for full-scale production runs of hundreds of thousands of parts has increased from 14 percent in 2020 to 24 percent in 2021; only one percent use 3D printing for less than 10 parts compared to 17 percent four years ago.
The survey found that the most important drivers for a company’s adoption of 3D printing for large scale production were its ability to improve part performance [55%]; increase design freedom [45%]; overcome supply chain issues [30%]; and to lower production costs [24%].
A number of important changes occurred in the past two years that have encouraged the adoption of 3D printing for large-scale production. These include gaining expertise in 3D printing technology and processes [47%]; the fact that the business case for AM has improved [42%] and the cost of 3D printing materials has come down [40%]. Important, too, according to the respondents of the survey was that 3D printing technology has improved scalability [39%].
The majority [96 percent] of respondents think that the manufacturing industry could save billions of dollars in production costs as 3D printing technology matures. However, as they think about future-proofing their investment in 3D printing at scale, the key strategic considerations included:
- integrating 3D printing with existing machinery and work in practice on the factory floor [50%]
- ensuring designers and engineers acquire specific “design for 3D printing” knowledge and techniques [39%]
- ensuring finance teams develop a deeper understanding of cost and value implications [38%]
- the long-term availability of materials for parts and tooling [33%].
Essentium was founded in 2013. The company, which styles itself as a ‘category creator in the additive manufacturing industry’ now operates at locations in North America, Asia and Western Europe. Essentium currently has over 200 employees and holds more than 150 patents and patents pending, with more on the way.