Marketing / 5 upcoming developments in 3D printing

5 upcoming developments in 3D printing

3D printing has proven itself to be a revolutionary development in technology, as firms race to integrate it into production. But what further innovations can we expect?

1. Printer autonomy

Many hobbyist 3D printers currently require a large degree of maintenance and supervision.

“These printers all need considerably more personal upkeep than people are accustomed to with appliances,” Professor Joshua Pearce at Michigan Tech University said. “These printers all need considerably more personal upkeep than people are accustomed to with appliances.”

However, printers may be automated and installed with a system that provides feedback on the printing process, highlighting problems along the way.


2. Speed

Industries across all sectors are beginning to use 3-D printing, and efficiency is key in order for the process to be profitable.

“There are lots of ways to improve speed by using higher-quality components and by optimising the designs and movement of the lasers,” said Andrew Boggeri, lead engineer at FSL3D.

Many printers only have one printhead. By adding more, several copies can be made simultaneously. The printers will also be able to deposit multiple colours of materials.


3. Multi-Materials

Multi-material technology is available in higher-end printing systems, like those produced by Voxeljet, Stratasys, and 3D Systems. However, accessibility is set to increase.

Many printers can only handle one material at a time, for instance plastic, metal, ceramic or wood. The use of several materials could improve the efficiency of the process.

These substances are shaped by liquidation or solidification, both dependent on specific temperature or light requirements. Multiple printheads will allow for further diversification of material usage.


4. Inks

The industry is working to print whole systems, which not only requires further development of multi-material technology, but also inks that embed electronics into the product.

PARC is developing inks so circuits, antennas and RFID tags can be printed. “The vision is ultimately for a complete, functional, integrated object to exit the printer eliminating any and all manual assembly,” said PARC in its 3D Printed Electronics report.


5. Biological use

Professor Jennifer A Lewis at the Harvard School of Engineering and Applied Sciences and her team made a breakthrough in printing living tissue in 2014.

Prior to this, the tissue was made but suffocated from a lack of oxygen circulation. The scientists printed a network of blood vessels using a bio-ink that melted as it cooled.

The blood vessels were created by cooling the product, and draining the liquefied material to leave hollow vessels. 3D printing is making strides in the medical sector with the first successful 3D printed sternum transplant on July 10th this year.

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