The future of digital manufacturing: 3D startups vs. legacy 3D printing companies

After reviewing different types of 3D software solutions and understanding why they are required in the first step of an end-to-end digital manufacturing workflow, let’s examine the second step, which is 3D printing technologies for producing end-use parts. Although most of the existing solutions today are for prototyping applications, the vision is to find ways to implement various technologies in traditional manufacturing processes. The values are clear: shorter time to market, cost reduction, weight reduction, the ability to design and manufacture complicated geometries, avoiding costly inventories and more. However, this task is not easy due to the simple reason that manufacturing processes are not like prototyping. They have a different set of standards—much higher ones.

What are the recent developments in the industry of new and innovative 3D printing technologies that aim to offer more manufacturing-oriented solutions? What makes them more suitable for manufacturing compared to others? And where do they place the big players of the industry?

Prototyping vs. manufacturing

In most cases, a prototype is exactly as it sounds: a validity step before moving onto manufacturing the final product. A mistake at this point of the development cycle will not be that costly and will not delay the process significantly. When it comes to manufacturing end-use parts, however, the requirements are much higher in terms of productivity, accuracy, repeatability, strength and use of specific approved materials for different industries. Although “manufacturing with 3D printing” sounds great, this is why the implementation is not that simple.

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