3Diligent Goes to Vegas
A couple weeks ago, members of the 3Diligent team paid a visit to Sin City to take in the sights and sounds of the International Consumer Electronics Show. Since we’re all about industrial grade 3D Printing, we don’t go looking for the next generation of personal printers on display there. We go to connect with our customers displaying at the show and to take in the 3D Printing discussion track, where some of our industry’s heavyweights offer perspective on how they are positioning themselves to support the next wave of consumer products – whether it be toys, electronics, or household durable goods. The sessions didn’t disappoint. And whereas last year “generative design” ruled the day, this year it was “bespoke materials.”
So without further ado, here are five key 3D Printing takeaways from CES 2016:
The Lewis Lab – and presumably Voxel8 with it – have some cool materials in the pipeline.
Jennifer Lewis has become somewhat of a brand name in the 3D Printing industry for the advanced 3D Printing work she’s done in her lab at Harvard. At a biomedical conference we attended in 2015, the buzz was about work the lab was doing to print vascular systems. At CES, she led a discussion about material science. The most publicized breakthrough they’ve made is in the silver-based conductive ink used in the Voxel8 printer. But they plan to release a number of different “inks” that take 3D Printing “beyond form, and start to integrate function” in the near future. Conductive, epoxy, flexible, and battery inks are all in the pipeline and have been tested with compelling results in their lab.
Carbon3D’s angle isn’t just speed, it’s materials too.
Carbon3D’s Joe DeSimone used the CES platform to make some notable announcements about their offering, although we haven’t seen much of it made in the press just yet. The big announcement – that they are rolling out 4 resin-based materials – is significant for a few reasons. First is that they’ve developed custom polyurethanes that their data suggests are comparable to a number of thermoplastic counterparts. These include rigid, semi-rigid, high heat, and elastomer, providing a decent range of options for varying applications. Second is that if those resins are truly industrial strength and the Carbon3D speed is what it’s cracked up to be, then Carbon has offered a meaningful step in transitioning 3D Printing from being a primarily prototyping to production technology.
The ISS is open for business, via Made In Space.
Made in Space is a super cool company, solving a major supply chain problem…getting things to space is really expensive. Not only do you need to buck up for a rocket that can get you there, but you also have to massively over-engineer anything making the trip to space strictly for the few minutes it’s taking on big G forces to get out of our atmosphere. With Made In Space’s “space-grade” 3D Printer, astronauts on the International Space Station can simply have files beamed to them and then printed by the crew. That’s cool by itself, but perhaps not the basis of big business. Now MIS is taking things a step further now, by opening up the ISS 3D Printer for business. Made In Space has designs on having companies beam designs for cube sats (small, high powered cube satellites) and other high value assets for printing in space that would otherwise have to hitch a ride on a rocket.
HP’s MJF is on its way later this year.
HP offered some perspective on its 3D Printing endeavor, Multi Jet Fusion. Scott Schiller of HP provided some detail on the process, which sounds like existing multijet/colorjet printing on steroids, with a lot more nozzles and thermoplastic (nylon, in particular) instead of gypsum powder. He described the process as building upon the technology in HP’s large form 2D Printers, which are differentiated by a staggering number of nozzles per square inch. It appears that with so many nozzles in such a small space, curing of the powder can happen much faster and possibly at a higher level of detail/crispness than previously possible. It did make us wonder though, if you’re going to saturate the powder with all of these nozzles, what does this do to material properties? Existing MJP/CJP technologies don’t tend to produce especially durable parts, but we’ve seen pictures of HP test parts doing heavy duty applications. As we approach HP’s launch target of Q4, we look forward to seeing additional testing data.
The 3D Printing market is up to $4.5B globally.
Joe Kempton from Canalys offered up that consultancy’s current estimate of the global 3D Printing market is $4.5 Billion. That figure reflects the combination of total annual revenues across printers, materials, and services. 45% of that amount was in the Americas, 34% in Europe/Middle East/Africa, and 21% in the Asia Pacific region. We look forward to the estimate in the forthcoming Wohler’s Report as another reference point on the industry’s continued growth.
Did you make it to CES and have other big takeaways? Do any of these developments speak to you? Let us know in the comments!
Cullen and the 3Diligent Team
Cullen Hilkene is CEO of 3Diligent, the Sourcing Solution for Industrial Grade Rapid Manufacturing. He is an alumnus of Princeton University, the UCLA Anderson School of Management, and Deloitte Strategy and Operations Consulting. For more information about 3D Printing and to access 3Diligent’s marketplace of 3D Printing vendors, visit www.3Diligent.com