We all know that 3d printing is well suited for Prototyping and modelling. This of course was true for the basic technologies which were invented decades back.
We need to understand that Technology is never a one-way street. And that is what few smart techies have proved.
Tweak the technologies to suit certain materials and Lo Behold! You get a 3d printer which can be used for end use parts and manufacturing.
Let’s look at few technologies which have a new feel and new applications in manufacturing.
In this section, we look at FDM technology.
FDM-Fused Deposition Modelling has been the darling of the industry ever since it was invented in 1989 by Scott Crump who formed Stratasys, one of the largest companies in AM today.
FDM took hold of the rapid prototyping market replacing CNC and milling for the initial concept design validations and few engineering grade materials like ABS and ASA which made breakthroughs for few end use protos and parts.
The game changed when Stratasys developed ULTEM and Digital ABS and Nylon for their 3D Printers and they were approved by Aerospace for usage as end use parts and direct fitment parts replacing the ever expensive conventional manufacturing for few applications.
This benefitted a lot of industries including Service providers to serve the manufacturing industries.
The revolution of End use parts using 3D Printing started here! The pioneers of the technology had set a platform and announced to the world that 3D Printing is here to stay and Rule!
Of course, as I said 3d printing is not a one-way street, FDM also had another way to go especially after the patents expired. Come MakerBot who commercialized low cost FDM printers which set the Prototyping world on fire. Everyone could now own 3d printers!
This gave a lot of companies and startups the chance to develop their own low cost FDM machines for the proto market. Most of them went small, but there were some who believed in Big Parts.
The past 8 years have been ruled by low cost FDM 3d printers which were finally even commoditised by Chinese with their ultra-low cost model and few rep rap communities who gave a open source dimension to them.
This was not a surprising phenomenon for those who were born before the millennium because we saw the computers shift in a similar manner from Branded to assembled- low cost and open source.
This of course had its own survival game with few large branded companies shutting down and only the resilient carried on through the low cost phase.
Now if we compare the rise and fall of PC market with 3d printers, we are in the last leg of the second phase where only few companies in the low segment survive.
So, I would like to forecast the future of 3D Printers referring to the PC market where the 3rd stage will be ruled by the branded companies who invest in technology and provide machineries which can deliver accurate results.
My next blog will open up one such company and the revolution made within a technology to move it from Proto to Manufacturing..