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3D Printing TrendsAnother year under our belts GrabCAD readers and what a year it has been for 3D printing. As is so often the case, as one year draws to a close, it gives us time to reflect on the events of the past 12 months and look ahead at what’s to come.

In this post we’re recapping five of the top 3D printing highlights of 2019, while giving you a snapshot of what is set to take center stage in 2020.

2019 3D Printing Highlights

3D printing in the beauty industry

In addition to try-before-you-buy apps, the incorporation of artificial intelligence (AI) and the harnessing of augmented reality (AR) in this sector, 3D printed makeup made headlines this year.

Tech Trends in the Beauty Industry

Beauty brands have wisely been harnessing revolutionary methods to improve customer engagement, satisfaction and loyalty. In a market worth a staggering $532 billion, it pays to be ahead of the pack.

Examples include design agency Seymour Powell’s Élever printer concept, unveiled earlier in 2019. It allows online make-up looks to be downloaded and printed directly on to the face.

Then there’s Mink, the portable 3D makeup printer which boasts 16.7 million color shades and allows you to download any image and print make up from the color palette.

3D printing in the aerospace industry

3D printing in the aerospace industry made headlines this summer when it was announced that Researchers from Dresden Technical University (TUD) had developed a 3D bioprinting method for use in space, creating new skin and bone tissue. The goal is to allow astronauts to 3D print new skin patches to help heal wounds, or pieces of bone to help fix fractures.

Concrete 3D printing

In 2019, the 3D concrete printing market reached $27.8m in value. What’s more, other research suggests this figure is set to climb to $56.4m by 2021, meaning 2020 will be a big year for this industry.

The technology is being adopted globally, since 3D concrete printing enables manufacturers and building companies to utilize pre-designed concrete components for construction projects – saving time, money and labor costs. There is also the added bonus of error reduction, increased design flexibility and reduced environmental impact.

3D printing food

3D Printed FoodWithin this realm, 2019 saw a range of advanced 3D printing technologies working towards making food production more efficient, increasingly sustainable and undeniably intelligent.

The innovation behind 3D food printing is also attracting famous chefs and culinary enthusiasts, making this an industry that simultaneously addresses environmental concerns, whilst holding favor with the innovative elite.

Looking Ahead to 3D Printing in 2020

By 2020, one source predicts that potentially up to 80% of finished products will involve some kind of 3D printing. Furthermore, data from Stratasys shows that 42% of manufacturers expect 3D printing to be used for high-volume production in the next three to five years.

Here are some of the hottest 2020 trends that will help take the additive manufacturing industry to new heights:

1) Increased isotopic printing opportunities

Advanced manufacturing expert and 3D printing advocate, Gregory Paulsen, predicts that 3D printing will become increasingly isotropic, and therefore structurally comparable to traditional manufacturing processes.

Gregory explains:

If you think of each 3D printed layer as a ‘slice,’ where each is fused to the previous, you might think of continuous 3D printing like a video, moving in tandem with a progressive Z-direction movement. Because there is no start, stop, move, and repeat motion, the traditional consequence of different properties existing in the vertical no longer comes into play.

2) Increased demand for 3D printed circuit boards

3D printed circuit boards have been causing a stir in the additive manufacturing world since the introduction of Nano Dimension’s Dragonfly platform. Gregory also predicts that there will be a continuous demand for it in 2020 since 3D printing circuit boards open up a realm of possibilities for electromechanical design.

3) Continued investment in on-site printers in aerospace 

As the aerospace industry continues to see the value of 3D printing, we can expect more companies to begin developing on-site 3D printing operations and investing in the technology.

On-site 3D printing capabilities offer groundbreaking real-time design, processing, trial, and implementation of customized components. Going forward, keep an eye on the NASA funded Archinaut project which is set for completion within the next few years.

4) 3D printers for home-use

Historically, consumers were willing to wait weeks for a product to be delivered to their homes, but in 2020, they will want their new products ASAP. If time is of the essence, 3D printing has a place at the dinner table and it’s dominating.

Looking further ahead, certain household products could even start to be printed at home as standard. The Vulcan II is one example of a 3D home printer that is available as of 2020.

In Summary

There is a mounting and undeniable interest in the potential of 3D printing and such intrigue is only serving to further drive industry innovation forward. In 2020, additive manufacturing technologies will continue to grow and adapt, whilst demand from both engineers and consumers mounts.

Some estimates predict the industry is set to be worth a staggering $34.8 billion by 2024 – up from $9.9 billion in 2018. What’s more, a McKinsey report believes that it could have an impact of up to $550 billion a year by 2025.

Any trends we missed? Leave your predictions below!

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