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06 Feb 2015

How did 3D printing impact the manufacturing industry in 2014?

How did 3D printing impact the manufacturing industry in 2014?

Early in 2014, we wrote a blog on 3D printing and what it means for the future of manufacturing. In the blog we spoke about how 3D printing allows for engineers and designers to create products from conception through to production in a number of hours, without wasting materials. Thus allowing engineers to test concepts and prototypes at the fraction of the cost it would take to manufacture the parts traditionally.

We also mentioned how advocates of 3D printing predict that it will revolutionize the supply chain. Potentially reducing the costs to companies where a small number of production parts are required. 

But how did 3D printing really impact the manufacturing industry in 2014?

The medical sector is the industry most impacted by 3D printing last year, with everything from surgery and dentistry tools to prosthetics and replacement bones being 3D printed. In the first quarter of last year, a survivor of a serious motorbike accident had pioneering surgery to reconstruct his face using a series of 3D printed parts, with amazing results.

Medical 3D printing specialist, Replica 3DM, is helping a dozen hospitals in the UK reduce both costs and surgical procedure times, through the use of 3D printing technology in the validation of patient surgery prior to an operation. With advances being made by teams in London and Newcastle, the UK has become one of the world’s pioneers in using 3D printing technology in surgery.

Another industry utilising 3D printing is the technology industry, with technology giants such as HP, breaching out into manufacturing 3D printers to capitalise on the potentially huge market.  According to Arnold Gagneux, vice president of technology transformation at CCS insight, the global 3D printing market is set to grow from £930m in 2013 to £3,207m in 2018.

Industry leader in the manufacture of 3D printers, Stratasys, the owner of the MakerBot range of printers have created the ‘iTunes’ of 3D printing. This game-changing digital store allows for the easy purchase and print of a host of professionally designed digital 3D models, allowing anyone to have access to 3D printed products. Stratasys also launched the world’s first multi-material full colour 3D printer in 2014, helping reduce the time it takes designers to bring prototypes to the market by 50%.

Throughout 2014, 3D printing was heavily featured in the media, with stories of how this innovative technology has been used and excitement over what it has in store in the future. It wouldn’t be a stretch to say that in 2015, we can expect to see much of the same excitement surrounding this technology.  

 

Image copyright of Creative Tools

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