3D Printing for Serial Production

News from tct Magazine

Online 3D printed parts for serial production


“2020 marks a new decade in which manufacturing will become more localised, on-demand and freed of design constraints. 3D printing is a key driver of this change.”


3D printing now is adopted by the early majority for serial production. With ubiquitous applications across multiple industries—including automotive, aerospace, maritime, medical, space, sports, motorsports, railway, and defence—3D printing is changing new product development and aftermarket supply chains globally. 3D printing is only one part of the new digital manufacturing stack. Joined by other digital manufacturing technologies, such as CNC machining and low-run injection moulding, and empowered by digital supply chains and smart factories, 3D printing is forming the new manufacturing landscape.


The latest industry report by online 3D printing network 3D Hubs has found that the total value of parts 3D printed in the last year gained a 300% increase, suggesting a shift to a more professional, industrial-centric user base. The report also found that 40% of all online 3D printed parts in 2019 were designed for serial production, based on insights from the company’s order database and a review of the market. Additionally, more professional users are turning to online platforms to fulfil their manufacturing needs, driven by the availability of and access to multiple processes and materials that they may not be able to invest in in-house. Furthermore, the report found that 3D printing is being complemented by other technologies such as CNC machining and low-run injection moulding on the factory floor.


The leading AM companies including HP, Formlabs and Carbon expressed their thoughts on how the industry will progress; “impossible geometries” thanks to a better understanding of design for additive manufacturing, increased accessibility to more powerful systems, and breakthrough applications that will replace traditional processes, were cited as key predictions for the industry going forward.


The Untapped Potential – Medical 3D printing 

Medical equipment manufacturers can leverage additive manufacturing to improve performance and enhance patient outcomes.


Medical equipment manufacturers serious about taking advantage of AM’s benefits need an equally engaged partner who brings more to the table than just 3D printers. The right partner will help an organization implement the technology and accompanying procedures to operate more efficiently, better serving client needs. AM is relatively new and lack of standards to reference can be an impediment. Therefore, it’s important to find a knowledgeable consultant team to ensure success when communicating with regulatory bodies and identifying gaps in quality systems.


If companies can identify products or situations where AM can be applied, they can better set up quality systems to leverage data for fast-follower products in their AM pipeline. Much of this groundwork is done before production begins. A partner must offer a high degree of engagement on the front end to understand what the producer is trying to accomplish and how to help get there. So-called Additive Minds – human-centred design and innovation experts who work to minimize risks while quickly getting to serial production with the greatest possible design freedom.


Once systems are operational, the right partner will help producers think toward future applications and ensure platforms are built to sustain future production needs. Ideally, an expert partner will also offer education and training opportunities. Whether learning the fundamentals and safety measures or more advanced capabilities of AM machines, they’ll ensure producers get the most out of their investments.


The history of quality offered by experienced AM technology partners, as well as the technology’s ability to create complex geometrical structures, makes it ideal for high-value applications within medical settings. For medical equipment manufacturers, it’s important to recognize the powerful capabilities of 3D printing to better serve clients now and into the future!