The 3D Printing Ideas, Concepts,
and Trends Shaping Our Future

When 3D printing first hit the market in the 1980s, it was an incredibly expensive process. Only large commercial companies had the budget to afford it.

Since then, 3D printing technology has greatly evolved making it more accessible to almost everyone. Will greater accessibility lead to more creative 3D printing ideas?

Image by krzysztof-m from Pixabay

The answer is yes. Just look at the past few years!

2019, for example, was an exciting year in 3D printing. More businesses from a wide range of industries gave 3D printing a try. Companies found they could create better products faster while saving money.

2020 is proving to be another exciting year with more ingenious 3D printing ideas, concepts, and trends.

Are you considering whether to add 3D printing to your growing business? Get inspired by checking out these creative 3D printing ideas and trends shaping our future.

More Materials for Specific Applications

The cost and availability of materials limited to what businesses could print using 3D technology. Unfortunately, the cost of materials is unlikely to drop this year. But the availability and types of materials are likely to grow.

With more industries turning to 3D printing, there’s a growing need for a greater variety of materials. Current additive manufacturing (AM) and printing have a limited selection of polymer materials. Limited materials are restricting the growth of 3D printing applications.

Materials manufacturing businesses are filling this gap by creating new materials for AM 3D printing. New materials will for application-specific printing. With the right materials, companies will continue to push their 3D printing ideas and products.

Composite 3D Printing Will Grow

Aerospace, industrial, automotive, and many more industries use composite materials. Made with 2 or more materials, composites can be extremely lightweight and durable. They also work well for 3D printing.

This year, you’ll hear more about 3D printing with composites. In 2019, a growing technology company successfully started 3D printing bike frames!

More companies are making the switch to composite 3D printing to manufacture their products.

New 3D Printing Software

For the past several years, the focus was on 3D printers, materials, and hardware. These items continued to get better, bigger, and faster.

3D printing software, however, remained stagnant. When working with 3D printing, designers need to create detailed renderings of their designs. The outdated 3D software made the design process and workflow cumbersome and slow.

Fortunately, 2020 is about to change that. Software developers are working on making 3D design software more intuitive and easier to use. Final designs in the software will appear more detailed and realistic, giving designers a better idea of what will print.

With better software comes more efficient workflows. Designers and engineers will be able to print designs faster and with greater accuracy.

3D Printing Ideas Get Bigger

Industrial businesses are looking to expand into 3D printing. 3D printing currently can’t replace most traditional manufacturing techniques. It can, however, complement them.

3D printers are starting to print with metals. This gives manufacturers the ability to test and produce metal tools for larger products. Metal 3D printing will continue to grow and evolve this year.

Hybrid 3D printers allow manufacturers to print large components for wind turbines and airplanes. Producing large and complex components is time-consuming and expensive. Largescale 3D printing makes production faster, cost-effective while making the components lighter.

The trend to 3D print large components will continue to evolve throughout the year.

Image by krzysztof-m from Pixabay

3D Printing & Sustainability

One of the major 3D printing ideas taking hold this year is sustainability. Additive manufacturing is more green than traditional production processes. 3D printers only use the materials needed to create the product, reducing material waste.

Some 3D printing materials are recyclable. Reusable materials make prototyping and testing an environmentally-friendly process.

3D printing will cut down on wasted materials. Not only will this help keep the earth healthy, but it will also save businesses money on materials.

Automating 3D Printing

One of the primary goals of 3D printing is to improve efficiency. The introduction of artificial intelligence or AI and machine learning is a trend that’s continuing to grow.

One specific 3D printing idea is fitting 3D printing systems with sensors to monitor the printing process. Cameras and sensors will document every aspect of printing production. This ensures every printed component prints properly and meets requirements.

Engineers use this information to fix and adjust the printer for any potential issues. AI is learning how 3D printers should function to notify or make adjustments if a problem arises.

AI and machine learning have the potential to automate the printing process. There are currently a few 3D printers equipped with machine learning to anticipate and fix potential problems in the print. 2020 will be a big year for machine learning and making 3D printing a much smarter process.

3D Printing Jobs Will Grow

A great 3D printing trend is the continuous rise of 3D printing jobs.

With so many different industries adopting 3D printing technology, job opportunities are growing. This includes job opportunities focused on developing 3D printing software and 3D printers.

  • Growing job opportunities in 3D printing include:
  • 3D designer to create products
  • CAD modeling & design
  • Biological/scientific modeling
  • Research & development
  • Architecture including business and home
  • Construction
  • Education in schools & colleges
  • 3D printing specialist
  • Mechanical engineers
  • Service technicians
  • Industrial engineers
  • Innovative business opportunities
  • Legal professionals for Intellectual Property (IP) rights

While 3D printing is looking forward to automation, it will continue to need several designers, engineers, and operators to ensure products print correctly. As technology advances, it’s likely more job opportunities will arise.

High Volume 3D Printing

Despite the many advantages 3D printing has to offer, it’s best for low to med-volume production. This is changing throughout the course of the year.

One 3D printing form, metal binder jetting, can create highly-accurate components at fast speeds. It also uses more affordable molding metals for injection.

High volume 3D printing is still in the early stages but will be expanding throughout the next several years. You’ll see polymer AM and other 3D printing processes start to evolve and hit the floor to produce high volume components.

Let These 3D Printing Ideas & Trends Shape Your Future

These exciting 3D printing ideas are only the start of what’s on the horizon. The latest 3D printing technology will help your business work more efficiently while saving you time and money.