Manufacturing using 3D printing technologies holds significant promise in strengthening U.S. manufacturing competitiveness by transforming how many products are made and increasing supply chain efficiencies, according to Stratasys (Nasdaq: SSYS), a manufacturer of 3D printers and materials for personal use, prototyping and production.
According to Lux Research in its recent report “ Building the Future: Assessing 3D Printing’s Opportunities and Challenges,” 3D printed parts will be an $8.4 billion global market in 2025 led by the automotive, medical, and aerospace industries. Stratasys believes that greater industry awareness of 3D printers’ capabilities, advancements in materials, and increasing affordability will play a significant role in driving this growth.“Many talk about additive manufacturing as a ‘disruptive’ technology, but these are the same production materials that many engineers and manufacturers are already used to working with,” says Jon Cobb, EVP of Global Marketing for Stratasys. “In our view, additive manufacturing will not replace many of the traditional manufacturing processes, but rather complement how a good portion of manufacturers are delivering products to market in a more efficient and customized way.” Impacting Our Economy through Additive ManufacturingStratasys believes that the additive manufacturing opportunity is now. For more than 25 years, many manufacturers in aerospace, automotive, defense, education, consumer goods and electronics, biomedical and other industries have used Stratasys additive manufacturing systems to make product designs better. But today, more and more customers are using 3D printing to produce finished complex goods on-demand in an efficient process using common thermoplastics. This growing manufacturing method is impacting many areas of the economy by empowering manufacturers to be more efficient, flexible and innovative. Those who apply such technologies could gain competitive edge. The National Additive Manufacturing Innovation Institute ( NAMII), an advanced manufacturing hub that brings together industry, academia and government to accelerate innovation and advance emerging manufacturing technologies, recently funded its first research projects including three that employ the Stratasys FDM process using high-temperature ULTEM™ 9085 thermoplastic resin. The projects are designed to help bridge the gap between basic research and product development, provide shared assets to give companies — particularly small manufacturers — better access to cutting-edge capabilities and equipment, and create an unparalleled environment to educate and train students and workers in advanced manufacturing skills. Stratasys is also working with the U.S. Department of Energy at Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) to develop additive manufacturing processes for production use. The initiative builds upon a strong collaboration that leverages ORNL's Manufacturing Demonstration Facility (MDF) to foster energy efficient production using additive manufacturing materials and processes.
Future WorkforceAs additive manufacturing gains momentum, the evolving skill sets required to use it heightens the need for investment in STEM education. This will allow the workforce of tomorrow to participate more fully in the new economy and help shape industry. For years, Stratasys has worked with numerous research-driven universities and thousands of K-12 schools to help students strengthen technical skills by using 3D printers.Stratasys recently kicked off of its 10 th annual Extreme Redesign 3D Printing Challenge that invites students worldwide at the middle school, high school, and college level to submit inventive new product designs, redesigns of existing products, or original or redesigned works of art or architecture. Designs are developed using 3D CAD software, submitted to Stratasys to be 3D printed, and winning submissions are awarded with scholarship money. The company has also partnered with STARBASE, an organization funded by the Department of Defense that promotes STEM learning for grade school students. For images, video, and other multimedia on additive manufacturing, please visit the following links:
- Medical Device Manufacturing using Additive Manufacturing
- 3D Printing Merges with Printed Electronics
- Oak Ridge National Laboratory Additive Manufacturing Initiative
- NASA Aerospace Manufacturing with 3D Printers
- Extreme Redesign challenge for students
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