In The News

3D Printing Trends – What Is The Fastest Growing Segment?

3D printing industry remains highly fragmented across different printers, materials, and software. This fragmentation in the 3D industry will be a catalyst for growth, as no single company controls the majority of the market, according to The Information Network’s report The Information Network.

There are nearly 200 printer suppliers described in the report with products on the market, and an average of 1.4 different printers per supplier. This does not count home-made 3D printers that can be built in one day for less than $200.

The large market for FFF printers has cultivated another business that is further fragmenting the 3D printing market – materials. Materials represented 19.4% of the 3D printing industry in 2013, which in our analysis includes materials, printers, service bureaus, and spare parts. In the report, we note that materials will be the fastest growing sector of the industry, representing a 22.1% share in 2020. This would include 3D Printing Plastics.

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3D Printing Trade Association News – What Does The 3D Printing Purchases By GE Mean For The 3D Printing Industry?

General Electric Co. announced plans to acquire two suppliers of additive manufacturing equipment, Arcam AB and SLM Solutions Group AG, for $1.4 billion. GE expects Arcam and SLM to bolster its existing material science and additive manufacturing capabilities. Each acquisition is structured as a public tender offer for all of the outstanding shares of stock of each company.

Arcam AB, based in Mölndal, Sweden, invented the electron beam melting machine for metal-based additive manufacturing, and also produces advanced metal powders. Arcam generated $68 million in revenues in 2015 with approximately 285 employees.

SLM Solutions Group, based in Lübeck, Germany, produces laser machines for metal-based additive manufacturing. SLM generated $74 million in revenues in 2015 with 260 employees.

So what does this all mean for the 3D Printing Industry?

Does this once again show his multiples paid? If you add the revenue together, you get $142,000 in total revenues for the two targets and GE is paying 10x. But both firms do have great technology and more importantly, revenue.

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3D Printing Industry Association Looks At Formlabs Connection With Brad Feld

Autodesk, The 3D design software giant is using the investment as an opportunity to build a partnership with Formlabs, a deal that will develop collaborative software and marketing between the two companies — though specifics on what all of that will mean are still forthcoming. Autodesk is a pioneer in 3D Printing, and also an investor.

Autodesk CEO Carl Bass, quoted in today’s announcement: “Formlabs has brought a lot of innovation and great execution to the desktop 3D printing market, and Autodesk is excited to invest in the company’s future. But even more importantly, we’re eager to work together to improve digital design and manufacturing for product designers everywhere.” Autodesk is one of the multi billion dollar firms invested in 3D Printing.

The latest round of funding also means that Foundry Group co-founder Brad Feld, who funded Maker Bot which was acquired, will be joining Formlabs’ board. “There has been an enormous void for a new market leader in 3D printing,” Feld told TechCrunch ahead of the announcement. “It’s evident Formlabs has emerged as the leader in desktop 3D printing.”

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Did Solidoodle Really Run Out Of Money?

So what happened to this company that once held such promise?

According to a former employee, the company has been struggling for some time now. This employee, known only as Solinonymous, has peeled back the curtain and given us a peek at what s/he has been seeing:

“It started with the Press, which without getting into too much detail, was/is a complete disaster. Production tapped out most of our funds and the port delays meant that we weren’t able to re-coup those costs as quickly as we needed. Plus, the Press pre-order campaign meant that we were pretty much shipping the printers at a net loss.”
“problems continued to mount, the company began to miss payroll deadlines…in addition to completely dropping the ball on refunds for unprovided services. However, loyal employees tried to tough it out and soon there was some promise of new investors who would give the company the necessary cash infusion to keep it afloat. As the round of fund raising was completed, there was new money, and with that, new hope.

Unfortunately, it didn’t do as much to alleviate the situation as would have been hoped, Solinonymous continues:

“Turns out most of the funding was used to pay off debts and it wasn’t long before the prospect of missing payroll again became a reality. Last month they called a company meeting and laid off pretty much everyone…obviously, there’s a whole lot more to this story but the bottom line is that things don’t look good. If you have an unfulfilled order, unfortunately, I wouldn’t get my hopes up. If you’re looking for a refund, I would start exploring other avenues to recoup…because there isn’t any money there, and if there was, refunds are not very high up on the list of priorities.”

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3D Printing Bringing Challenges To Intellectual Property and Copyright Law

3D Printing Legal Matters

IP Issues In 3D Printing

Where’s the IP? A wide range of IP rights apply in the context of 3D printing. Managing IP issues is a challenge for manufacturers in the age of 3D printing, says expert…

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Breaking Copyright With 3D Printing!

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Posted in Business, Favorites, Legal

3D Printing Trends – 3 Trends To Think About

3D printing becomes industrial strength. Once reserved for prototypes and toys, 3D printing will become industrial strength. You will take a flight on an airliner that includes 3D-printed components, making it lighter and more fuel efficient. In fact, there are aircrafts that already contain some 3D-printed components. Overall, the number of 3D printed parts in planes, cars and even appliances will increase without you knowing. But do you care?

3D printing keeps saving lives. 3D-printed medical implants will improve the quality of life of someone close to you. Because 3D printing allows products to be custom-matched to an exact body shape, it is being used today for making better titanium bone implants, prosthetic limbs and orthodontic devices. Experiments in printing soft tissue are underway, and may soon allow printed veins and arteries to be used in operations. Today’s research into medical applications of 3D printing covers nano-medicine, pharmaceuticals and even printing of organs. Taken to the extreme, 3D printing could one day enable custom medicines and reduce if not eliminate the organ donor shortage.

Customization becomes the norm. You will buy a product, customized to your exact specifications, which is 3D-printed and delivered to your doorstep. Innovative companies will use 3D printing technologies to give themselves a competitive advantage by offering customization at the same price as their competitor’s standard products. At first this may range from novelty items like custom smartphone cases or ergonomic improvements to standard tools, but it will rapidly expand to new markets. The leaders will adjust their sales, distribution and marketing channels to take advantage of their capability to provide customization direct to the customer.

Learn More about how to run a 3D Printing Business

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3D Printing Discussion – 7 Problems Created By 3D Printing

3D printing might halt development in the developing world and inhibit societies there from becoming wealthier and more democratic.

Ultimately there is no money in 3D printing. Meaning, that it will suck the value out of any and all manufacturing while becoming cheaper approaching the point of free. This might lead to mass unemployment or at its most extreme the cessation of much of the economic activity on this world.

By decoupling people from companies, states, society at large 3D printing might accelerate our current trend towards ever less trust in each other and institutions.

Criminals could use 3D printing for crime. As ATM scammers have already done.

The 3D printing bookof accurate face masks that resemble other people would wreak havoc on the way crime is fought now and make all witness testimony unreliable. How do you catch someone if you don’t know what he looks like? If he’s discarded his fully articulated realistic face mask to reveal his own face or perhaps even another mask beneath and then enters a crowd. Face Off, All the time.

If machines without recyclable materials predominate then impulse 3D printing could cause an adverse environmental impact.

3D printing will make terrorists & spree killers more powerful and will also let armies iteratively improve their war fighting capability.

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3D Printing Problems – What Critics Are Saying About 3D Printing

1. 3D printers are energy hogs
When melting plastic with heat or lasers, 3D printers consume about 50 to 100 times more electrical energy than injection molding to make an item of the same weight, according to research by Loughborough University. In 2009, research at MIT’s Environmentally Benign Manufacturing program showed that laser direct metal deposition (where metal powder is fused together) used hundreds of times the electricity as traditional casting or machining. Because of this, 3D printers are better for small batch runs. Industrial-sized 3D printers may not be the answer to lessening our use of coal power any time soon. That may be true, but can we print less? Are we comparing apples to apples?

2. Unhealthy air emissions
3D printers may pose a health risk when used in the home, according to researchers at the Illinois Institute of Technology. The emissions from desktop 3D printers are similar to burning a cigarette or cooking on a gas or electric stove. The 2013 study was the first to measure these airborne particle emissions from desktop 3D printers. While heating the plastic and printing small figures, the machines using PLA filament emitted 20 billion ultrafine particles per minute, and the ABS emitted up to 200 billion particles per minute. These particles can settle in the lungs or the bloodstream and pose health risk, especially for those with asthma. True to a point, but the technology is moving towards cleaner air and self contained units

3. Reliance on plastics
One of the biggest environmental movements in recent history has been to reduce reliance on plastics, from grocery bags to water bottles to household objects that can be made from recycled materials instead. The most popular—and cheapest—3D printers use plastic filament. Though using raw materials reduces the amount of waste in general, the machines still leave unused or excess plastic in the print beds. PLA is biodegradable, but ABS filament is still the most commonly used type of plastic. The plastic byproduct ends up in landfills. If 3D printing is going to be industrialized, that byproduct or other recycled plastic needs to be reused. Again true, but no need for alarms. We are printing from more and more materials.

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3D Printing Trends From PWC Report

In 3-D printing, hundreds or thousands of layers of material are “printed” layer upon layer using various materials, or “inks,”2 most commonly plastic polymers and metals. The many different printing technologies are generally material dependent. (See the sidebar “3-D printing technologies.”) For instance, fused filament fabrication (FFF) is used with plastics, stereolithography with photosensitive polymers, laser sintering with metals, and so on.

3-D printing technologies
The printers must be improved in three areas to seize the opportunities that exist beyond today’s predominant use case of rapid prototyping:

Performance: Improve key performance characteristics, such as speed, resolution, autonomous operation, ease of use, reliability, and repeatability.

Multi-material capability and diversity: Incorporate multiple types of materials, including the ability to mix materials while printing a single object.

Finished products: Provide the ability to print fully functional and active systems that incorporate many modules, such as embedded sensors, batteries, electronics, microelectromechanical systems (MEMS), and others.

Today’s 3-D printers are concentrated at two ends of a spectrum: high cost–high capability and low cost–low capability. (See Figure 2.) High-end printers are generally targeted at enterprises and 3-D printing service bureaus; low-end printers, which are often derivatives of open source RepRap3 printers, are targeted at consumers and hobbyists.

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3D Printing Book Debunks Five Myths Of 3D Printing

3d printing magazine

Let’s 3D bunk these myths. Most new technologies get pushback. The resistance comes from people who are afraid of it, who can’t grasp the relevance, who don’t understand new technology in general, or those who have entrenched interests in keeping the status quo. Many radio stations fought television’s market entrance. The survivors grasped the new technology (TV) and added it to their portfolios. NBC has radio stations AND TV stations.
So let’s 3D bunk these myths one by one.

Myth #1: 3D printing will not catch on because it is too technical. The interesting question is, too technical for who? Engineers and manufacturing technicians have always been technical people. These practitioners have been dealing with design drawings and specifications and blueprints (print and electronic) for decades, so they will clearly grasp new technologies quickly. However, the consumer will also. The “how” of 3D printing won’t be interesting to many of us; we will be interested in the benefits of it. What will it do for my business, my brand, or my needs?

As 3D printing applications mature, so does their ease of use. Right now there are even iPhone and iPad apps that allow consumers to create, augment, design, and order 3D-printed specialty products by tracing their fingers over a tablet computer. The apps get easier to use and cost less and less over time. My nine-year-old can design and print her own tea cups. Too technical? Not true.

Myth #2: Most people won’t do any 3D printing because they aren’t manufacturing people. The best part about myths is that there can be some truth to them. In this case, the statement is true; most people are not manufacturing people. But most people are not plumbers either! Does this mean the entire field of plumbing hasn’t gotten more advanced, more accessible to the consumer (look at all the plumbing parts available in Home Depot) and more user friendly? Since we as people are still going to need “stuff,” we are still going to need “stuff” made. 3D printing is another way to make “stuff.” Even if everyone doesn’t become a home manufacturer, we are still consumers.

Myth #3: 3D printing will never replace traditional assembly line manufacturing. There is truth to this as well. Assembly lines with large economies of scale will not go away. Those assembly lines may move from country to country, but won’t disappear as a methodology. But who says 3D printing has to replace it? Can’t it augment it? Just as TV did not replace radio, this rapid prototyping and incredible customization will add to assembly line’s capabilities. And once the small runs available through 3D printing are utilized, we can go back to the large runs to get the per unit cost down.

Myth #4: 3D printers are very slow and take a long time to make one product, so who can wait? If the 13,000 audiologists (people who fit patients with hearing aids) service clients one at a time and can manufacture on demand for each patient, then the wait is even less than ordering a hearing aid. Over and over again we hear of one-off needs for people that are satisfied by 3D printing. Let’s also not forget that early computers were slow. Early Internet access was dial-up. Early cars went 15 miles/hour. This technology will get faster and faster.

Myth #5: You can only make plastic junk from 3D printers. Not true. While some experts are fighting to make 3D printers faster, others are working on using different materials to feed into the 3D printer. Currently 3D printers can work with glass, metal alloys, stem cells (to make kidneys and other body parts) food, pharmaceuticals, plastics, dental materials, photo-polymers, resins, bacteria, and the list goes on and on.

Read How to 3D Print Money for the next five 3D printing Myths.

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