2020 Plastics Market Forecast: 3D Printing

December 20, 2019 • Posted in Market Insights

Rapid Machine, Material, and Application Innovation Driving 3D Printing Market Transformation

In this installment of the 2020 Plastics Market Forecast series, our 3D printing market manager and engineering consultant, Haleyanne Freedman, shares her perspective on the 3D printing market and its future. Specifically, she discusses the viability of open source platforms, how new and innovative additive manufacturing methods and materials are gaining popularity, and how innovation in these areas will drive marketplace transformation in 2020. “Additive manufacturing and 3D printing was a new market for M. Holland in 2018, and one in which we made great strides and saw impressive growth in 2019,” Haleyanne said. She shares more about her predictions for 2020 below:

“2020 promises rapid innovation and transformation in machines, materials, and methods. Additionally, manufacturers are increasingly discovering 3D printing’s benefits and are adopting it in their production practices– on both a large and small scale. Here are the trends I see making the biggest impact in 2020 and beyond:

Open Source Machines: Open source 3D printers are becoming more affordable and higher quality – offering manufacturers an alternative to the larger, pricier closed platform printers. With machinery prices decreasing, we saw the rapid adoption of open-sourced filament-based printers in 2019 as industry education is more readily available. We’re starting to see that same trend spread to other polymeric printing methods, such as photopolymer- and powder-based systems following FDM/FFF filament trends. We expect open source machines and the broad range of materials they use to continue to drive change and transformation in the additive manufacturing market in 2020.

Innovative Materials & Methods Gaining Popularity: Chemical companies are continuing to develop ground-breaking formulas for materials, which contribute to the use and production viability of advanced 3D printing applications. A few innovative examples I see continuing to pick up steam include:

  • Photopolymer Printing: Photopolymer printing, also known as SLA, DLP, CLIP, and DLS, saw the most innovative material developments in 2019, with even more new and exciting materials set to launch in early 2020. This process enables the creation of very fine features and textures, which is especially beneficial to production applications. We also continue to see the printing of both extremely low-durometer and high-temperature prototype mold-applicable materials using this method.
  • Mold Printing Applications: This method is transforming the industry, enabling manufacturers to create prototype molds overnight for only a few hundred dollars – a fraction of the time and cost it takes to traditionally produce a metal mold. Plus, through 3D printing, you can produce anywhere from five to 100 parts per mold (material and geometry dependent), while streamlining the entire molding prototype process and decreasing costs.
  • Powder-Based Systems: Powder-based systems, also known as SLS and MJF, are becoming much more affordable. Until recently, powder bed fusion required an investment of half a million dollars. However, the entry-level systems are becoming much more affordable, which has contributed to an increased use of this technology.
  • Sustainability: Sustainability is the biggest issue impacting the plastics industry– and the 3D printing market is no exception. At M. Holland, we started an initiative to use and re-recycle 3D printed ABS. When your parts are no longer used, or if you have failures, you can send the parts back to M. Holland and we will process the material up to five times, returning it to a filament form. While we’ve seen growing interest in bio-based materials, the printability and quality of those materials are not yet up optimal for widespread use. In 2020, sustainability will continue to be a primary focus for M. Holland across all our specialty markets.

We will continue to see OEMs shift to additive manufactured parts to streamline legacy processes, cut costs, save time, and increase quality. It no longer makes sense for companies to use traditional methods such as custom or injection molding for low-volume applications when, with the right materials, they can be 3D printed in production with incredible functional and highly aesthetic properties. As the design concepts for additive manufacturing become more commonplace and skillsets further develop across the broader workforce, the use of additive manufacturing methods and materials will continue to increase.”

Haleyanne Freedman – Authored by Haleyanne Freedman, Market Manager and Engineering Consultant, Additive Manufacturing

In our next installment of the 2020 Plastics Market Forecast series, M. Holland’s director for Wire & Cable, Todd Waddle, and market manager for Electrical & Electronics, Carlos Aponte, will share their perspectives on what we can expect from those growing segments. Stay tuned and don’t forget to check back in for future and previously published market insights from our Healthcare, Rotational Molding, Color & Compounding, Flexible Packaging, and Automotive market managers.

What are you most excited about for plastics and the 3D printing market in 2020? Let us know on Twitter, LinkedIn, or Facebook.

If you enjoyed this article, take a look at M. Holland’s 2019 Market Trends Series:

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