Last week, IDTechEx Show! included a busy and varied track on a wide variety of 3D printing technologies, materials innovations and applications. Rachel Gordon, Technology Analyst at IDTechEx, has picked out some highlights.
Integration with traditional manufacturing
Will Seith, of Roland DGA, gave a presentation on the merits of 3D printing versus 3D milling, with a view to incorporating 3D printing into manufacturing only in the places where it makes sense. This is an increasingly common view, in an industry coming down from massive hype about 3D printing everything and instead looking for a few practical, industrial uses to grow a sustainable market.
Hemant Bheda, of Arevo Labs, compared 3D printing of plastics to other plastic forming techniques. It is currently used for high value, low volume items, but as it becomes quicker and cheaper, additive manufacturing can be used for larger quantities without compromise on the complexity.
en Burns, of Stratasys, talked about thermoplastics available for industrial thermoplastic extrusion printing and the work Stratasys is doing to push the available materials to both higher performance as demanded by aerospace industries, and to lower price, weaker polymers for more general use.
Tooling is becoming a major application
DSM Somos have been involved in the 3D printing industry for many years now, and Sean DSilva spoke of their innovative materials for stereolithography. They are working to provide materials to make tools tough enough to injection mould thousands of parts without breakage.
The beginnings of a 3D Printed Electroncis Industry
IDTechEx Show! has included 3D Printing and Printed Electronics for several years, so what better place for the newly emerging 3D printed electronics companies to come together to form an eco-system. There are still only a handful of companies in this business, but most were present last week, and there are a lot of innovative products and great ideas.
Carlos Ospina, of Bot Factory, spoke of the reasons to adopt desktop 3D circuit PCB prototyping, as an alternative to traditonal out-sourcing of PCB manufacture. However, the uses of 3D printing of electronics stretches beyond prototyping. The possibilites of combining 3D printing and conductive inks were discussed by Simon Fried, of Nanodimension:
The most well-known example of 3D printed electronics remains the Voxel8 quadcopter, and Michael Bell presented an X-Ray scan, which showed just how detailed the object is. It's a proof-of-concept model, but it displays the potential of Voxel8's technology and materials.