Up until recent years, 3D printers were sold at incredibly high price points, which meant they were only really suitable for largescale commercial use. They’re now on the market at more affordable price points, which is making them accessible for much smaller projects, sole traders and SMEs. Whilst the speed of the printers and limitations of their output has only made them suitable for rapid prototyping in the past; things are changing, and look set to change the landscape of manufacturing forever.
Metal 3D Printing
The coming year or so should take metal 3D printing to the next level. Whilst plastic printing is now at a stage where it can be used for commercial purposes, metal printing is still due some advancements before it reaches that stage. Yet, with industry giants including HP, Nike and GE on board it looks like those advancements will happen sooner rather than later.
Where is it currently at?
The performance of 3D metal printers has already gained huge momentum and in a relatively short space of time has increased in speed, ease of use and performance. It’s already producing sophisticated, quality metal alloys and has the potential to create complex results which couldn’t be achieved with standard manufacturing processes.
What’s in store for the future?
Metal 3D printers are predicted to dramatically reduce the cost and time required for producing complex parts that are critical to areas like the aerospace and automotive industries. This technology has the means to compact the working power of entire factories into one machine, creating a ‘tardis-esque’ potential which will push capability past anything it’s ever seen before. Assembly line workers could be made a role of the past, which instead of spelling doom and gloom for employment figures, frees up space for new roles.
SMEs and Sole Traders
These developments could also spell good news for smaller businesses, opening up opportunities for printing parts required on the day and manufacturing more bespoke items. Imagine the potential for motor traders and technology providers, instead of having to send customers away due to not having the parts in or having to deal with long wait times to send off for certain parts, these could be created by your in-house team.
Toys and Jewellery
For those working in the toy or jewellery manufacturing industries or are looking to turn a hobby into a working business, 3D metal printing could be a huge benefit. It can be used to make intricate pieces and simplify complex details meaning that in the next few years, this industry and the competition within it, could be set to boom.Get Insured If you use 3D printing technology in your business, or if you’re looking to implement it when the price is right, you’re going to need the right cover. Not only will you need to protect the machine itself against damage, failure or theft, but you will also need to protect yourself in the form of liability cover, with product liability essential for any items you print in-house and sell/issue for customer use.