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Cullen Hilkene

Metrology

What’s Coming in 3D Printing Technology in 2018

Five predictions highlight better designs and industry acceptance

Published: Monday, January 15, 2018 - 12:01

We’ve turned the corner and arrived in 2018. What will this year hold for 3D printing technology?

First, the arrival of extrusion metal printing. Today’s extrusion printers are the most prevalent and, arguably, the most user-friendly 3D printers on the market. Now, after years of there being zero metal extrusion printers, there will be two in the new year from Desktop Metal and Markforged. These technologies promise new materials and a higher degree of user-friendliness for metal printing.

Second, stories will focus on other metal-injection, molding-based 3D printing systems that are bringing down the price of printing. Each of these, like extrusion metal printing, will offer a different take on building up a part “scaffold” and then sintering it in an oven as a secondary step to create a part.

Third, there will be an increasing recognition that these metal injection molding (MIM)-based systems don’t displace existing 3DP technologies but instead will target the market for molding and machining parts. These lower-cost systems will gain some traction with traditional metal 3D printer users like the aerospace and medical industries, but where they will truly make their mark are in industries like industrial products, automotive, and oil and gas.

Fourth, additive manufacturing as a production technology will expand. More and more announcements will come from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) that parts have been approved for production use. News of the success of these parts in the market will start leaking out as well.

Fifth, there will be more buzz about increased speed. This will start with headlines from the new products that HP and Carbon are launching. And that will lead to incumbents that have been chasing them to highlight their successes. In addition to these known products, there will be more news about some of the exciting next-generation technologies that are coming from research labs.

These are the top five trends I see coming for 2018, and they all bode well for the year to be another great one for 3D printing.

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About The Author

Cullen Hilkene’s picture

Cullen Hilkene

Cullen Hilkene is CEO of 3diligent, “the 3D Printing Partner for Every Business.” 3Diligent is a web-based rapid manufacturing service described as “Uber for 3D Printing, CNC Machining, and Molding and Casting.” Before founding 3Diligent in 2014, Cullen was introduced to 3D Printing and many of the business challenges it has begun solving during five years of project work with Deloitte Consulting, where he advised companies large and small on topics related to their corporate strategy and operations. Cullen received his MBA from the UCLA Anderson School of Management and his BA from Princeton University.