Why did additive manufacturing experience such an increase in demand in 2020? For the researchers, the answer is obvious—COVID-19. The disruption to global supply chains made procuring parts from overseas incredibly difficult and forced businesses to think about local solutions such as 3D printing. On top of this, personal protective equipment (PPE) and other tools could be produced quickly, especially at the beginning of the pandemic. One example is the 3D printed hands-free door opener that Solidpro produced for a care home.
In this way, additive manufacturing (AM), also known as generative manufacturing, 3D printing and rapid prototyping, is setting its stall as a technology of the future. Ten years ago, there was huge hype around additive manufacturing as the patent for the fused deposition modelling (FDM) process expired and today, the technology has thrown off its training wheels and is growing step by step.
With improvements to the machinery, new materials and powerful hardware, component quality has increased over the years. These days, additive manufacturing is not only for producing prototypes, but also for mass production.
Additive manufacturing is already being leveraged in numerous industries—from manufacturing to automotive, medicine to consumer goods. The company ProGlove has been developing and producing smart 3D-printed barcode scanners made in Germany since 2014 and today counts Seat, Bosch, Audi and Festo as its customers.
In the automotive industry, Daimler has become one of the first companies to invest in additive manufacturing. At the Daimler Buses 3D printing competence centre, a project was launched in 2016 to print 3D parts and was expanded in 2020. The company is therefore setting new standards in the sustainable production of spare parts.
There are of course products we can use! How about a nice pair of 3D-printed glasses made by Götti Switzerland? Or what about a gift of 3D-printed ear rings from Boltenstern? They’ve got a touch of the Bechtle logo about them, haven’t they?
Since the beginning of 2021, Solidpro has been the sales partner of 3D printer manufacturer Markforged thus complementing its range of high-quality offerings from HP with excellent entry-level models for industrial additive manufacturing at Bechtle. The most affordable 3D printer available is priced €4,995.
Markforged mainly leverages fused filament fabrication (FFF) technology, which is known as an FDM process. Parts are printed by melting plastic, but Markforged is unique in that its 3D printers to process Onyx thermoplastics—a carbon fibre filled nylon. The result? Stable, strong and heat-resistant parts with a high surface stability.