Technology Spotlight: Major Technical Trends in 3D Printing

In the course of our work – particularly our Strategic DealFlow and Topic Specific Scouting – we uncover pertinent technologies from all over the world. One of the sectors we’ve developed a great deal of depth in is the hot area of 3D printing.

Our experience in investigating and analyzing 3D printing innovations has enabled us to identify the major technical trends in 3D printing.

  • Novel Materials – Additive manufacturing (AM) has moved beyond thermoplastic printing to high-speed, high-resolution printing of metals, thermosets, composites, and other building materials such as wood and concrete. You can expect to see both established players and the ED printing startup community experimenting with new techniques to accommodate more innovative materials.
  • Expanding Methodologies – Innovators in additive manufacturing are experimenting with laser curing, powders, liquids, continuous fibers, chopped fibers, UV curing, continuous printing, automation, combined AM and post-processing, etc.
  • Improved Software – New software accommodates novel layering and curing processes, as well as high-speed printing and inspection needs. Increased computational power is giving life to scaffold-free prints, real-time quality control, and better part tolerances with fewer throwaways.
  • Industry Buy-In – The expansion to new materials opens 3D printing up to advanced markets where strength, durability, size, and weight are all critical parameters. Additive manufacturing is gaining traction in aerospace, automotive, biotech, oil & gas, construction, electronics, and other industries beyond the traditional hobby and prototyping markets.

We’ve worked on a wide range of client projects involving 3D printing, including:

  • Seeking 3D printing for on-demand cosmetic and beauty care products at the point-of-sale
  • Seeking 3D printing capabilities for high-performance materials and for use in high pressure, high temperature environments
  • Seeking materials and methods for light weight, large industrial manufacturing.

3D printing is not only here to stay, but also setting the stage for evolutionary and revolutionary changes in many different sectors.