3D Printing will accelerate to new heights this year, especially within the manufacturing industry, asserts advisory firm Gartner in its new report.
The overall consensus of the 19-page-long report, called “Gartner’s annual predictions about the future of 3D printing”, is that 3D printing will continue to advance and grow within a wide range of industries over the next years, including in the industrial manufacturing industry, the medical sector, and more.
Key highlights of the report include the projection that by 2020, 10% of industrial operations will integrate robotic 3D printing technologies into their manufacturing, 30% of internal medical implants and devices will be 3D printed (and increasingly printed on location), product introduction timelines will be reduced by 25% because of 3D printing, and a whopping 75% of manufacturing operations across the globe will integrate 3D printed tools, jigs, and fixtures for the production of finished goods.
Each of the points is based on a number of findings and reports done by Gartner. For instance, in the projection that 10% of industrial operations will integrate robotic 3D printers by 2020, the analysis takes into account that over the past ten years, 3D printing has transformed from a primarily prototyping technology to one suitable for making quick-to-market products, specialized designs, and low-volume production runs. On a basic level, it is only natural to assume the technology will continue to advance and become more sophisticated.
Gartner cites a number of developments that are currently underway that point to further advancements, including autonomous and collaborative robotic 3D printing, end-of-arm tooling on automation, integrated inspection systems, large-scale automation and construction, factory floor “hybrid” machines that combine 3D printing with CNC milling, and more.
The prediction that 30% of internal medical implants and devices will be 3D printed by 2020 is not entirely surprising, as we see on almost a daily basis how 3D printed implants are becoming increasingly viable. The primary reason for the acceleration of this 3D printing application has to do with the demand for customized medical treatments and devices.
As mentioned, Gartner has also predicted that by 2020, 3D printing will reduce new product introduction timelines by 25%. Companies will be better equipped to turn out prototypes, test them, present them to clients, adjust and tweak them, and repeat. As Gartner says, “The number of iterations enabled by rapid and iterative prototyping results in short new-product development time, lower development costs and fewer finished goods defects.”
Gartner’s final strategic planning assumption predicts that in the next few years, 75% of manufacturing operations across the globe will be using 3D printed tools, jigs, and fixtures, made on location or through a 3D printing service, for product manufacturing. Essentially, this means that companies will not necessarily give up their existing manufacturing methods but rather use a combination of more traditional practices and 3D printing; use additive manufacturing to supplement and support their existing techniques.
Excerpts and image: Gartner/Siemens