The world of prototyping has changed dramatically over the past decade, and it won’t come as a huge surprise to discover that it will continue to change, perhaps even more dramatically, over the next 10 years. The increased widespread adoption of 3D printing, brought about due to its new accessibility and affordability, tomorrow’s prototyping will continue to be dramatically different.
3D print technology is certainly in a good place, with research from a new International Data Corporation (IDC) Guide claiming that worldwide spending on 3D printing will surpass £10bn in 2019. An update to the Worldwide Semi-Annual 3D Printing Spending Guide from IDC shows global spending on 3D printing will increase by 21.2 per cent this year compared to 2018. By 2022, the IDC predicts worldwide spending will be nearer £20bn, a compound annual growth rate of 19.1 per cent.
So, now at the start of another new year, let’s take a look at the trends we should expect to see from rapid prototyping in 2019.
The medical industry has been at the forefront of embracing 3D print for years now; from models to prosthetics, organs to medical tools. In 2018 we saw bacterial cells produced that were compatible with some hydrogels, printing what can only be described as living tattoos that responded to outside stimulation. With 3D printed bacteria continuing to evolve, we see the medical field racing beyond where it currently is with 3D printing now.
2018 also saw a breakthrough with the development of printing an object while suspended in a structure – something that could have huge ramifications in the medical sector. Essentially, the organ is floating during the print process, opening the door for doctors to transform transplants and solve issues by printing more complex objects using a softer material.
Gone are the days of prototypes being created using a ‘one-size fits all’ method. Whether it’s form, fit and function or engineering prototypes, in 2019 there are no shortage of options out there to ensure your model, prototype or part is created exactly as you’d like it. From the accuracy and finish of Stereolithography (SLA) printing, the high tensile strength and fast build times of Selective Laser Sintering (SLS), to the vast array of materials of Fused Deposition Modelling (FDM), you’re now able to find the perfect process to suit your project. Whilst a technique we’ve been employing for years at Ogle, more companies are now seeing the benefits of employing multiple technologies and techniques to one project. This ultimately delivers cost efficiencies and the best model or prototype possible.
While many people tend to focus on materials and processes, an equally important element when it comes to industrial rapid prototyping is software. In 2018 we saw a large emphasis on software in terms of additive manufacturing, particularly simulation software. With the capabilities of simulation software becoming ever more advanced, simulating the printing process as well as the properties of a part itself gives us a much better understanding of the impact of printing parameters.
As companies now begin to scale their operations, software will also become an increasingly valuable tool for managing and streamlining additive manufacturing processes at all stages. 2019 will see software for 3D printing operations become an even greater area of focus, which is only going to help produce even better results for customers.