HP has released its list of predictions for 3D printing and digital manufacturing in 2020. Informed by extensive interviews with a team of experts, this year’s research identifies top trends that will have a major impact on advancing Industry 4.0 such as the need for more sustainable production, how automation will transform the factory floor, and the rise of data and software as the backbone of digital manufacturing.
“The year ahead will be a time of realising 3D printing and digital manufacturing’s true potential across industries,” said Pete Basiliere, Founder, Monadnock Insights. “As HP’s trend report indicates, digital manufacturing will enable production of users’ ideal designs by unlocking new and expanded software, data, services, and industrial production solutions that deliver more transformative experiences while also disrupting legacy industries.”
The 2020 3D Printing and Digital Manufacturing Predictions Are:
1) Automated Assembly Will Thrive on the Factory Floor
Automated assembly will arrive, with industries seamlessly integrating multi-part assemblies including combinations of both 3D printed metal and plastic parts. There’s not currently a super printer that can do all things intrinsically, like printing metal and plastic parts, due to factors such as processing temperatures. However, as automation increases, there’s a vision from the industry for a more automated assembly setup where there is access to part production across both metals and plastics simultaneously.
2) Coding Digital Information Into 3D Printed Textures Will Accelerate
Organisations will be able to code digital information into the surface texture itself using advanced 3D printing, providing a bigger data payload than just the serial number. This is one way to tag a part either overtly or covertly so that both people and machines are able to read it based on the shape or orientation of the bumps.
3) Sustainable Production Will Continue to Be a Business Imperative
3D printing will enable the manufacturing industry to produce less waste, less inventory and less CO2 emissions. Engineers and designers will rethink design throughout the product lifecycle to use less material and reduce waste by combining parts and using complex geometries to produce lightweight parts. This further reduces the weight of vehicles and aircraft to improve fuel efficiency which can reduce greenhouse gas emissions and energy consumption.
4) Demand for Students Who Think in 3D Will Increase
Higher education is at a crossroads, challenged with competing for enrolment, changing demographics and the need to adequately prepare students for the future of work. What’s needed is a complete mind shift to prepare for Industry 4.0.
5) Mass Customisation Will Fuel New Growth in Footwear, Eyewear and Dental
The consumer health sector will fuel digital manufacturing growth and adoption, as footwear, eyewear and orthodontics applications rapidly adopt 3D printing technologies. There’s a massive application space around footwear that’s very lucrative for the 3D printing industry.
6) 3D Printing Will Power the Electrification of Vehicles
Automakers are increasingly turning to 3D printing and digital manufacturing to help compete in a time of change, as the industry goes through its biggest transformation in more than a 100 years moving away from the internal combustion engine toward electric vehicles. As electric vehicles increase in popularity, automakers will continue to unlock the capabilities of both metal and plastic 3D printing systems to speed up their design and development in order to meet ambitious goals.
7) 3D Printing Will Drive New Supply Chain Efficiencies
The capability to deliver things digitally and produce things locally has not always won out. At the end of the day, manufacturers must analyse where in the supply chain it’s the most efficient to root production – whether that’s near the end users or near the source of material production.
8) Software Will Push the Boundaries of Digital Manufacturing to New Levels
In 2020 we will close the gap between what 3D printing and digital manufacturing hardware is capable of and what the software ecosystem supports. Advancements in software and data management will drive improved system management and part quality leading to better customer outcomes. Companies within the industry are creating API hooks to build a fluid ecosystem for customers and partners that includes purpose-built individualised products.
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