How has the all the hype around 3D printing/additive manufacturing (3DP/AM) prototyping and manufacturing endeavors affected you? According to the Gartner hype curve, we are probably now in the trough of disillusionment. Except for metal AM, which is still experiencing the effects of hype.
The situation, however, is not at all bad. More companies are entering the 3DP/AM industry, such as Trumpf and Toshiba.
The hype served a purpose. It helped fund a number of improvements and new developments within this field. But as the hype dies down, we will no longer have a new “advance a week,” noted Todd Grimm, founder and president of T.A. Grimm & Associates Inc. “We can get back to sanity,” he said. “This is the era where practicality reigns.”
Major introductions have emerged already and more are on the way. “We will see better tools, more applications, more innovation, and some disruption. We will be able to do more, and do more with more types of parts,” Grimm continued.
The Additive Manufacturing Users Group (AMUG) Conference is not normally a venue for new product introductions. But it is a place where developers give presentations on new technology or equipment they have created. Several companies at AMUG took advantage of this opportunity.
Carbon, for example, had already introduced its first machine, the M1, prior to AMUG. Attendees lined up to hear more about how this AM machine works. Impossible Objects discussed how it prints with carbon fiber material.
EOS showed its M 100 system that it introduced late last year. Attendees had an opportunity to find out how this smaller laser sintering machine could fit into their application needs.
3D Systems returned to AMUG and showed its SLABot system, Feature 4. By lining up several stereolithography systems and connecting them with a couple of robots, the Feature 4 is a mini 3D printing manufacturing system.
And XJet gave a presentation on its nano-particle jetting additive machine, which binds stochastic metal cut into nanoparticles in a patented liquid and jets them through standard ink-jet heads onto a build platform. The initial metal is stainless steel. But this system delivers speed and fine resolution detail.
Grimm also noted that a number of 2D printing companies are moving into 3D printing, including Canon, Richo, Fuji and Epson; not a development you would see if, according to the trough of disillusionment, this industry was in trouble.
More development is in the works thanks to the earlier hype heaped upon 3D printing. The Carbon and XJet processes definitely deliver something new.
And more is coming. Said Grimm, between 2016 and 2026, we will see a number of new ways to additively make products side by side with traditional manufacturing. We’ve only seen the tip of what is possible in additive manufacturing.
Filed Under: 3D printing • additive manufacturing • stereolithography, Robotics • robotic grippers • end effectors