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Looking back, looking ahead. Additive Manufacturing breakthroughs in 2017 and what to look out for a

With 2017 behind us and a fresh start to a brand new year ahead, it’s worth taking a second to stop and see what new advancements we saw in the world of 3D Printing. 2017 was a year of accessibility in 3D Printing—with greater automation in high end production 3D Printers, and a more user-friendly experience to support more complex and advanced parts to be created using additive manufacturing. Thanks to these advancements, we saw an increase in adoption of Additive Manufacturing technologies, especially in the manufacturing realm.

But the party is just getting started! Many top industry experts have made some 3D Printing predictions for 2018, and many see a similar trend. High-end 3D Printing will continue to grow, with the cost slowly coming down, and hype around consumer printers will start to drop off. You can also guarantee we’ll see a plethora of new materials tailored to individual applications and industries, which will continue to move 3D Printing from the realm of prototyping to more end-use final production parts.

Let’s take a look at what some of the experts are saying is in store for us for 2018 (for more quotes, you can check out the post at Blog):

3D Systems Menno Ellis, SVP Strategy and Vertical Markets, 3D Systems

"I believe that 3D printing in 2018 will see continued advancements in bioprinting of tissues and organs, enabling greater number of healthcare applications. Also, continuing advancements in material development enabling new applications for end-part production in high stress environments including auto, aero, consumer goods and medical/dental.

This year 3D printers will see significant price reduction of production-caliber technologies and platforms (DLP, SLS, Metal) will open up new markets and drive penetration for 3D printing.

There will be an increasing importance of APAC. Technical advances and market gains by Chinese OEM’s, including growing 3D printing adoption by APAC manufacturing facilities as range of 3D printing benefits, for example economic, technical, operational, exceed labor cost arbitrage.

3D printing M&A activity in 2018 will be driven both by captives, for example GE 2016 acquisitions of Arcam and Concept laser, and consolidation among legacy hardware and software players seeking to control a larger portion of the solution and leveraging scale for demanding R&D environment."

Bart Van der Schueren, CTO of Materialise

"For 2018, we believe that the adoption cycle for 3D Printing will become increasingly easier, thanks to more automated processes, integrated software, collaborations with partners across industries and standardized processes.

EnvisionTEC Al Siblani, CEO of EnvisionTEC

Also in 2018, the EnvisionTEC team sees a downturn coming in what appears to be an every-few-years hype cycle in low-cost, low-quality 3D printers. Much like the hype around MakerBot climbed for half a decade before trailing off, we’re starting to see a slowdown in the recent wave toward cheap 3D printers. While some of these low-cost 3D printer companies may survive long-term as they try to enter a more premium end of the 3D market, where the requirements for high accuracy, repeatability and sophisticated materials are paramount, we believe the next year will see a shakeout of many of these companies.

Amit Dror, CEO of Nano Dimension

In 2018, the 3D printing market will continue to mature, where we are anticipating the addition of new entrants into the market, technological advancements, and more customer-driven end applications. As a driving force behind the Internet of Things, the Industry 4.0 revolution and other advanced manufacturing technologies, 3D printing and highly sophisticated additive manufacturing technology will translate the digital world to the real world. As such, we can expect to witness a more connected, digital, functional and agile world to do things the right way. It’s a world limited only by our imagination.

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