5 Major 3D Printing Trends Expected in 2021

In 2021, 3D printing (for example, 3D printing for production parts) helps manufacturing companies move toward new ways of thinking, doing, and making better choices.

When 3D printing was first introduced sometime in the 1980s, it stirred up a revolution. Over the last four decades, the 3D industry has grown by leaps and bounds. Today, it is not uncommon to witness its use in factories across various sectors – from consumer goods to aerospace and even healthcare. What is astounding is how multiple industries have discovered its capabilities like creating 3D printing production parts, shorter production cycles, and speedy prototyping that has transformed the way designers and engineers working today. Here’s a look at five major 3D printing trends to look out for in 2021 and beyond.

1: New crises will force industries to go back to the basics

Does this seem like we are going back rather than moving forward? That is what is happening. Today we face crises like climate change and the COVID-19 pandemic. Such catastrophes are forcing companies worldwide to go back to the drawing board and rethink the status quo of both industrial and economic systems. There is a growing realization that industries must change how they operate and develop innovative solutions to counteract these new challenges. These new pressures provide immense scope for revolutionary technologies like 3D printing to impact the areas of innovative processes and radical new designs.

2: 3D printing will continue to permeate nearly every step of the production process across industries

The number of companies using 3D printing for production parts has almost doubled over the last few years. Industries will expect to reap more benefits from 3D printing.

  • The automotive industry will continue to use 3D printing for bridge production, tooling, fixtures, prototyping, and replacement of parts for centuries-old cars.
  • The healthcare industry will increasingly use 3D printing for applications like jigs, tooling, fixtures, as it takes half the time than traditional methods.
  • The transport industry will increase its use of 3D printing for maintenance and repair.
  • The robotics industry will increasingly use 3D printing to create end-of-arm tooling and end-use parts like gripper fingers, etc.
  • Not to be outdone, the educational industry uses this technology for research and development purposes and creates educational tools to convey lesson plans.
  • Even the aerospace industry – one of the hardest-hit sectors during the pandemic with some of the highest standards in part performance, continues to invest in additive manufacturing. 3D printing helps to reduce costs and streamline production (prototyping, research and development, repair, and producing production parts).

3: 3D printing will be used increasingly for producing functional production parts

The use of 3D printing for producing production parts has steadily increased from 27% in 2017 to 52% in 2019. 79% of the surveyed companies are expected to double up 3D printing for production parts over the next three to five years. 48% of the respondents are believed to make 3D printing production parts two to ten times faster than traditional methods. Four out of five companies would make production parts, jigs, tooling, or fixtures that save them 50% of their time. 25% percent of respondents believed that 3D printing was over 20 times faster than traditional methods.

4: 3D printing will be used increasingly for mass customization manufacturing

When a new product is introduced, it often takes several design iterations and prototypes before the product is finally ready to be released into the market. 3D printing combines flexibility and personalization- the entire design cycle is compressed and shortened to as little as 48 hours. That is a massive gain over traditional methods. Over 50% of the survey respondents believed that 3D printing would help their companies get their products out into the market faster. Mass customization via 3D printing will also help companies create customized parts more quickly, on-demand, and save inventory and storage costs.

5: Manufacturers expect 3D printing use to change over the next few years

There is a widespread belief among manufacturing stakeholders that the use of 3D printing will significantly grow over the next few years. A whopping 96% of the manufacturers who took part in the 2019 study said they expected their use of 3D printing to grow between 2019 and 2023. Over 50% of the manufacturers believed that 3D printing had already changed how they operated and would continue to do so. A further 38% thought that they hadn’t yet felt the full impact of 3D printing.

From providing design freedom and lighter products to cost reduction. From speedy production time to innovation and quick time to market new ideas. More and more companies across industries realize the benefits of 3D printing. 3D printing for production parts (and more) is on the rise.

DesignPoint provides 3D software and hardware solutions like SolidWorks 3D design products, Markforged, and BigRep 3D printer solutions for engineers.