As the year is coming to an end we look back at the year that has passed, at what happened, reflect and speculate what the next year will bring. In the Additive Manufacturing (AM) ecosystem, there is never a dull moment and it seems that each year is more eventful than the previous. Last year we asked LEO Lane’s management team to point out what they are expecting to see in 2019, here we will follow up on their predictions made a year ago, are the 2018 predictions the 2019 highlights?
1. Shifting the Spotlight to Software
As LEO Lanes VP R&D Shmuel Korenblit predicted AM related software will be all the buzz in 2019 – and it was, ending with the recent Formnext event which materialized the extent. Many of the collaborations we saw throughout the year included a software company, just one recent example is material company DSM partnering with 6 software companies, each covering a different aspect in the AM process (below 3D printed part made from DSM material – photo via DSM). Indeed many of the challenges and needs raised by the AM ecosystem are currently addressed with software solutions, whether it’s security, control, repeatability or certification. You can definitely say shifting the spotlight to software is one of the 2019 highlights.
2. Logistics Companies Moving Towards AM
Some of our predictions were long term predictions such as logistics companies moving Towards AM, although we did see steps in this direction, that takes time. What we did notice is that supply chain managers are starting to notice AM, logistics conferences are beginning to incorporating conversation on AM into their programs and more professional media outlets are discussing AM in the supply chain. You can read more about it in the recent articles written by our co-founder and VP Business, Lee-Bath Nelson, on our blog as well as on Supply Chain Management Review.
3. Certification Leads to Application
There has been much conversation around the topic of certification in the past year: committees, events, creating standards, including a standards forum at Formnext – the entire ecosystem is committed to developing certification methods and standards. The goal is enabling industrial use of AM and increasing the number of additively manufactured applications. The work is done simultaneously from both directions – from the certification side, and from the application side. Often it takes certifying specific applications, specific use cases and over time applying the certification on a wider scale. We have been highlighting the AM applications that are already in use in our #AMapplications series, giving an indication of the growing scope. This is a process and we are sure that over the years we will see more of it.
4. A Growing Commitment to Geo-Economic and Social Values
Responsible manufacturing, creating a higher standard in terms of sustainable manufacturing is a long term prediction. Additive manufacturing processes in their essence are based on minimized waste -using only the material necessary that’s already a start. Choosing on-demand manufacturing over mass production of parts and products is the next step – “on-demand is in demand“. This ties back to both the supply chain as well as software solutions mentioned above and is something else that was dominant this year – the ecosystem needs, and is, working together – AM adoption is fueled by advancements throughout all phases of production, one prediction can’t fully come true without the other.
5. A Growing Commitment To Data Security
Last on our list is a prediction made by co-founder and CEO Moshe Molcho, who addressed one of the biggest concerns of a company wishing to implement industrial AM production – data security. Maintaining control over company data, IP, manufacturing processes and know-how is essential. From our engagement with the AM ecosystem over the last year it is clear that this need is on everyone’s mind. Here at LEO Lane, we are happy to provide such a solution, believing this is the way to widespread industrial adoption.
It’s always nice to stop, take a moment to look from a wider perspective with the distance of time at what we do every day. In a couple of weeks, as the new year begins, we will bring you next year’s predictions from the LEO Lane management team.
Until then, what are your 2019 AM highlights? Tell us about them in the comments below or email us. For more insights and information follow us on LinkedIn or subscribe to our newsletter for weekly updates (up top 3T 3D printed space antenna – Formnext 2019).