What is the Future of 3D Printing?
Sarah Wisbey
15 May 2019

5 predictions from industry experts about the future of 3D printing.

Since the Department of Educations 2013 report3D printers in schools: uses in the curriculum, Enriching the teaching of STEM and design subjects’ the use of 3D printers in schools has been steadily increasing. Working with 3D printers has proven success for allowing students to bring ideas and learning to life, and for cultivating crucial 21st century skills.

The ability to see tangible results quickly means 3D printing can ignite students' excitement for STEM subjects quickly. Using 3D printers in the classroom is also an excellent way to incorporate a project based learning mindset into the classroom.

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Deloitte predict that sales related to 3D printing will surpass $2.4 billion in 2019 and $3 billion in 2020. The use of 3D printing is altering industries at lightning speed. How much do we really know about the future of this technology and its capabilities? What predictions can help us when it comes to teaching young learners about 3D printing?

The below predictions from industry insiders help to outline what the future may hold for 3D printing:

  • According to Christoph Schell, President 3D Printing & Digital Manufacturing at HP Inc., mass production is the next big thing for 3D printing. He believes ‘3D printing will enable industry to innovate faster, leverage flexible manufacturing, reinvent supply chains, create new markets and produce new parts in new ways that were previously impossible.’

  • Jon Bruner, Director of Digital Factory, Formlabs hopes that the development of more cloud driven CAD packages will allow more people to print their ideas. He says that currently many professionals who could get value from 3D printing don’t have the computer-aided design skills they need. Having or having access to the design skills which go hand in hand with printing in 3D is crucial for it to become more mainstream.

  • Ric Fulop, CEO, Desktop Metal believes that the revolution currently happening in the 3D printing of metal is very similar to the revolution which brought computing itself to businesses of all sizes. He says that his company is scaling up production to meet the rapidly growing demand. The evolving market share of different materials should be noted here too. Metal 3D printing has risen from 28% to 36%, whereas that of plastics has diminished to 65% from 88%.
Close up 3D printer

  • Just last month the world’s first heart with cells and blood vessels was printed by researchers at Tel Aviv University. This break through could revolutionise the future of organ transplants and the likely hood organs are rejected by the body. The next step is for the researchers to culture the heart and teach it how to behave before planting it into an animal. Although there’s still a long way to go Professor Dvir, one of the researchers, says “maybe, in ten years, there will be organ printers in the finest hospitals around the world, and these procedures will be conducted routinely.”

  • The prices of resin and machines has dropped drastically in the last few years which leads Chris Grundemann, from Myriad Supply to predict that small batch production will become more normal. He believes this will reduce the need for offshore production and thus a lower demand for long distance global global shipping.

Where do you think 3D printing will take us in the future? In both the classroom and in industry. Share your thoughts with us in the comments!