At industry events, like Rapid.Tech + FabCon 3.D, you can see which way the wind is blowing. In the next ‘Custom Talks’ interview we met with Marcus Lutterberg, Project Lead FabCon 3.D, who told us there is a lot to look forward to in additive manufacturing.
The Rapid.Tech tradeshow and FabCon 3.D conference are two of the most important additive manufacturing industry events in Europe. Every year, industry players from more than 20 countries meet to connect, share ideas, and learn about the latest advances. A natural center of the ever-changing additive market, the Rapid.Tech + FabCon team has a unique perspective on industry developments. We talked to Marcus Lutterberg, Project Lead FabCon 3.D about what we can expect to see in the coming years and how Rapid.Tech + FabCon 3.D are helping businesses stay ahead.
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1. What are the next trends you expect to see in the 3D printing market in the next few years?
As a major industry conference and exhibition, we follow trends with considerable interest. One such development is the proliferation of additively-driven businesses. As the technology and materials improve, more opportunities for realizing previously unthinkable ideas and business models emerge. Currently, a lot is happening in the automotive and medtech fields, and we expect this trend to persist. However, we also think that the nearer future will see more applications of additive technology in architecture, food, and the fashion industry.
2. Which industries do you think will be most impacted by 3D printing in the next 5 – 10 years?
If production times continue to fall, I think we will see far more additively manufactured parts in the mobility sector, so that would be planes, trains, and cars. My gut also tells me that we will witness something of a revolution in the medical sector in this timeframe.
3. What do you consider the main drivers of 3D printing?
Companies have very diverse needs, and so I think the motivations for adopting AM technology can be quite different, depending on what is needed. For me that means that the main drivers could shift over time. However, for now I think constructive considerations are the most important. For example, the automotive or aeronautics industry use AM to achieve lighter weight constructions.
4. What role do you think customization and product configuration will play in future AM business models?
Well this ties into what I said about seeing a growth in the number of medtech applications we can expect to see in the future. For these applications, customization will be an absolute must. Everything from implants to orthotics needs to be tailored perfectly to each user.
But, customization will also be important in other sectors. Think of the fashion industry. We are already seeing the first major players moving in that direction. For example, Adidas is building a production center that will focus on the manufacture of custom shoes. Customization will be all about creating products tailored perfectly to the specific user or case, and this will change the products themselves, as well as supply chains.
5. What do you think are some of the most significant challenges for companies looking to integrate 3D printing into their production processes?
First and foremost, awareness. Businesses need to know about the technology and how it could be useful to them. Once this hurdle has been cleared, these new possibilities have to be met with an open mind. For many companies, it can be hard to accept the possibility of failure, which sometimes keeps them from exploring AM altogether.
Following from the “if” challenge is the “how”. A lot of companies jump straight to weighing renting or buying machines, and this puts a lot of pressure on a new or young business strategy. Before jumping to this stage, businesses should seek out some external consulting, get some test prints, maybe invest in some training to really understand their options.
6. What developments in hardware or software do you think are necessary in order to make 3D printing possible for serial production?
What the industry needs is developments in both hardware and software. Hardware needs to become faster and the software smarter. These kinds of changes will be crucial for manufacturing larger quantities, placing multiple prints in the same production chamber, and of course for customization.
7. How do Rapid.Tech + FabCon 3.D contribute to the AM revolution?
We are helping establish a community for the industry by creating a professional and also cozy event, where industry leaders can meet, share ideas, and learn. The Rapid.Tech conference has established itself as an important channel for experts and industry leaders to share knowledge. Our tradeshow offers unparalleled networking opportunities. We connect established players with startups, and provide a basis upon which the industry can grow.
8. How have the Rapid.Tech + FabCon 3.D events developed in the past few years?
Over the past few years both the trade show and conference have grown, which is very positive. The exhibitor number has grown 20% annually since 2014, and the number of visitors has grown about 60% in the same time. We believe both our exhibitors and attendees love the familiar atmosphere of our event; chiefly because it allows for a lot of networking.
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