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The Number of Applications Will Grow
In 2018, more industries will find more ways to use additive manufacturing for more applications. Materials other than plastics, such as metals, will help facilitate these new uses, especially in industries such as the automotive and aerospace sectors. Researchers will also continue to work on printing biocompatible materials for use in the healthcare industry, and we may see some significant advances in this field.
New and Better Designs Will Surface
3D printing will enable better product design as more companies start to use it during the design and prototyping process, along with Internet of Things technology. The speed and cost reductions that 3D printing provides in the prototyping phase will allow companies to test more versions of their design. It also allows them to easily save and access their designs, test out different ideas and combine aspects of various designs.
Processes Will Accelerate
The speed of the 3D printing process will continue to increase, making it more competitive with traditional manufacturing methods. Experts expect this trend to be driven largely by software. Current players in the field will continue to improve their products’ speeds while research labs will continue to work on innovative new designs.
Costs Will Continue to Fall
Another factor that will fuel increased adoption is the continued lowering of costs, while the technology keeps improving. While 3D printing has always been great for short-run production, the technology will start to emerge as a strategy for reducing expenses at a larger scale as printers become more readily scalable.
As technological advances allow manufacturers to print using more material types, companies will be able to save more money by reducing waste.
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The best time you have a car part that breaks, think of the auto parts store of the future. Instead of heading to the store and having the clerk comb through large boxes of inventory while using antiquated computer programs, there will be new solutions.
Let’s say your ashtray breaks.
We should be able to go online and find the ashtray you need. You then send it to a 3D Printing bureau. (It could even be within an auto parts or hardware store). You click a mouse and one prints for you, for delivery and pickup.
What if you can’t find the design online?
In most cars, you have more of than one ashtray. You will take out a 3D Scanner and scan one of the existing ashtrays. Or glue your broken ashtray together long enough to get a a few photos.
What if you don’t have a 3D Scanner? That is kind of like not having a bar code reader. Your phone’s camera will act as one eventually. In the meantime, there are many plug in scanners you can attach to your phone, ranging in price from thousands of dollars down to $100!
One you get a scan (it only takes a minute) you can send it to a printer. The printer can be on your desktop, at the local store, online at a service bureau or in a foreign country!
Imagine the convenience for the customer. Imagine the lack of inventory the store needs….the store can print on demand. We aren’t far from the auto firms certifying their images so that (e.g.) only “original Honda parts are used.”
In short, the scanner will be connected to your phone. Later, the scanner will BE your phone. The printer can be anywhere and the manufacturers get their cut.
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