The Future of 3D Printing is Infinite. The Only Limitation is Your Imagination.
Scott Crump, Chairman and Chief Innovation Officer of Stratasys, took to the stage at TCT Show & Personalize 2013 yesterday morning, to lift the curtain on 3D printing and discuss exactly how it is influencing manufacturing. With a history of over 20 years, the TCT Show in Birmingham, England, is the UK’s leading exhibition for Additive Manufacturing.
In his keynote, Crump acknowledged that the success of 3D printing does not lie in replacing traditional manufacturing methods, but rather as an enabling technology that plays an exciting role in modifying consumer behavior, helping to bring ideas to life and expanding manufacturing offerings. Fundamentally, Crump believes that 3D printing is changing the world of product development and manufacturing, creating many new opportunities and applications.
Here are a few excerpts from the keynote:
“3D printing for production is taking off and will become integral to changing manufacturing as we know it. Over time, it will be a widely used tool that complements traditional molding, machining, casting and fabricating.”
“Manufacturing applications using additive manufacturing, which are about 15 years into their evolution, will see significant adoption coupled with new technologies and new materials. Growth will rise sharply in the next five to ten years and it’s here that we will see new practices become embedded in the manufacturing culture.”
3D Printing: A Game Changer
“The greatest asset of 3D printing is that it is an enabler, giving the consumer a tool that requires no prior skill to produce art pieces, jewelery, novelties and replacement parts.”
“It doesn’t matter if the piece is ornamental or functional, organic or geometric, raw or painted; it is, by the very definition, end-use part manufacturing. As long as the intent is to use or sell and not validate; the consumer is now manufacturing. Therefore, manufacturing has already reached the home.”
A New Ecosystem for Consumers
“Consumers have a major role to play in the market and new online destinations like Thingiverse, a MakerBot digital content sharing site, and the likes of Shapeways, are important contributors, helping to modify consumer behavior.”
“Consumers will have unprecedented product selection and the option to 3D print it themselves or let others handle the manufacturing. Creators no longer have to battle for valuable shelf space or seek capital to start manufacturing - these are transformative times.”
Manufacturing the Future
“While the consumer market will be big, the industrial manufacturing market will be much bigger. This market is divided into two segments, augmented manufacturing where 3D printing makes the tools that are used to manufacture, and alternative manufacturing segments, where 3D printing makes the end-use item or part.”
“You are unlikely to read about augmented manufacturing in the mainstream media because it isn’t sexy. It doesn’t have the ‘awe’ component of a story such as 3D printing jet engine parts. I’m talking about all those manufacturing aids scattered across your production floors … jigs, fixtures, organizers, shields, guides and templates.”
“Using your 3D printer, you can make these low-risk, potentially high-reward items right now and put them in service tomorrow. This can be directly done by the production engineer. Consider what goes into machining a fixture or a 5S organizer and compare that with the ease, simplicity, speed and efficiency of 3D printing. That’s why it makes sense.”
“Some companies are just starting to use augmented manufacturing; others like BMW have been realizing the benefits of it for 10 years.”
Providing What Traditional Manufacturing Can’t Deliver
“3D printing is considered a realistic substitute to alternative manufacturing within a wide range of industries, however growth will come from those applications where the traditional methods are no longer practical, and where 3D printing is a more efficient process. A cell phone cover is a perfect example of recognizing what 3D printing can do and an example of its value by eliminating molds, injection molding operations, an assembly step and all the overhead that goes with stocking parts in inventory.”
“The opportunity is real when needs match what 3D printing delivers or in some cases, when traditional manufacturing just can’t deliver.”
Education for the Future
“One of the growth drivers of 3D printing will increasingly be education and this has two main advantages. Firstly, every student exposed to 3D printing will go into the workforce with the expectation that it is available and an understanding of what it can do for design and manufacturing. Secondly, it inspires children to consider coursework and careers in science and engineering.”
“3D printing can put manufacturing in a different and engaging light - helping to rid it of the stigma of messy, repetitive work if you want a real career. Maybe the answer is to revive the shop classes and classes of the past but with a focus on 3D printing.”
The Secret Industrial Revolution
“3D printing is growing all around us and is likely to be a secret industrial revolution where progress and innovation are happening outside of our view. Good applications may be too mundane and some companies may avoid the public spotlight to maintain their competitive advantage.
“So for all the skeptics and visionaries, and everyone who falls in between, I strongly suggest that if you are not prepared to act, you at least begin to plan and stratagize for your future with 3D printing, because the future of 3D printing is infinite. The ONLY limitation is your imagination – the imagination of all of us in this room.”