The Future of 3D Printing: Predictions by Industry Experts

In a recent article from Michael Petch at leading additive manufacturing (AM) resource 3DPI, key players in the sector (including our CEO Jon Donner) were asked to give their views as the likely path of AM in this next decade.


While the precise nature of each individual’s views were slightly different, there did seem to be a general appreciation of the fact that applications are set to remain a fundamental force propelling the industry. Also, there was a focus on the need for there to be a broader range of materials for AM users to select from if the technology is to become truly disruptive of traditional manufacturing moving forward.

Nora Toure, founder of Women in 3D Printing, expressed her hope that AM would play its part in resolving the sustainability challenges that the world and manufacturing industry in general is facing today by promoting on-demand local production. Arno Held, CVO at AM Ventures predicted that by the end of the 2020s, AM would revolutionize the way we develop, create and source goods, driven by major increases in machine productivity, broader material ranges, improved recyclability, as well as much higher levels of quality. 

Interestingly, Ric Fulop CEO at Desktop Metal forecast what he calls a “long but steady boom”, and as barriers to adoption are removed, more materials are added, and AM addresses the needs of more applications, there will be a decade of significant growth ahead of us. Rachell Hunt of Protolabs compounded this thought, and suggested the vibrancy of the sector is assured through more and more 3D printing innovations, partnerships, and collaborations as the decade evolves. 

Matt Gannon, VP of operations at Markforged focused on the way that AM has and will continue to affect the supply chain, bringing manufacturing to the point of use. Agility is the key to AMs success according to Matt, who also predicts the increase in the number of print farms that will emerge as manufacturers exploit the ability to quickly produce the parts they need most often.


And what of our own Jon Donner? Well, Jon suggests that by the end of the decade we will see many applications that can only be manufactured using AM machines, through their ability to manufacture parts impossible with traditional technologies. In the area of micro AM production which is where Nanofabrica resides, this means a focus on micro antennas that can’t be made with other technologies or optical lenses that are of such complexity and precision that they simply cannot be micro molded or machined. According to Jon, AM machines will become an indispensable part of the production process and move to the manufacturing floor. 


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