2021: A year in review – Additive Manufacturing

3D printing is revolutionising the world we know and large scale additive manufacturing is building steam, starting to touch all areas of life as we know it. Despite starting the year in a lockdown and a global pandemic this year we’ve seen:

  • a trial of affordable homes being 3D printed in Nigeria which is planned to be rolled out across several countries within the continent
  • 3D printed implants have been around for over a decade but the last year has seen new materials and improved, more accurate scanning to ensure that the printed part is fit for purpose
  • sports brand Adidas widening its 3D printed range, scanning your foot to offer a personalised printed shoe
Angle Layer 3D Printing from the LSAM

Below we discuss some of the advancements that have been seen over 2021, as well as making some predictions for what’s to come in 2022.

Angled Layer 3D Printing

One of the most exciting developments for Thermwood’s LSAM is the availability of angled layer printing which comes on all models with the vertical layer print option. This allows for large scale 3D printing at a 45 degree angle, meaning that even more intricate and varied shapes can be manufactured without the need for excessive trimming.

New materials

2021 has seen a demand for greater circularity in the parts produced. New thermoplastic materials have been developed which mean that once printed parts have served their purpose they can be melted down and used again, and again. With Climate Change quite rightly on the agenda this is a trend which will continue to grow.

Print only and new larger sizes

2021 saw the launch of the Print Only LSAM, offering those organisations who already have trimming capabilities the option of a lower cost LSAM. Smaller but still mighty, the print only model can print up to 200lbs per hour.

This year also saw the launch of wider machines available with Thermwood’s new 15 foot wide models. Bringing the huge cost and time saving benefits of Large Scale Additive Manufacturing to even more organisations.

3D printed food

Slightly off the large scale topic but maybe something to discuss over Christmas dinner is the growing experimentation within 3D printed food.

With the aim of becoming the worlds biggest meat company (who in truth aren’t actually selling meat), ReDefine Meat are using “cutting edge technology to replace the need for animals”, this includes 3D scanning, Artificial Intelligence and 3D printing.

Redefine Meat state that because meat has always been part of our diet that they wanted to create the same taste, texture and smell – just with non-animal alternative ingredients. Something they believe they have only been able to do owing to the advancements in scanning and printing.

With calls for us to eat less meat this might be more than a fad!

3d printing predictions for 2022

Predictions for 2022

Artificial intelligence is set to become a bigger factor in additive manufacturing, with machines offering greater repeatability, machine learning and new ways of working.

We predict that there will be more personalisation, we expect to see this across the healthcare industry with a focus on 3D printed organs, but we predict that the big jump will be in consumer brands using it as a service to differentiate themselves from competitors.

Then there is the subject of climate change. Additive manufacturing is fast developing as an industry which can help organisations to reduce their carbon footprint. There are the obvious factors, for example reduction in material demand of 70% (Thermwood LSAM) and the huge reduction in waste going to landfill and reductions in shipping emissions. But possibly the biggest saving has got to come from how quickly these parts can be printed. If an idea or solution which can help to lessen our carbon footprint is thought of it could be created and ready to use within days rather than months and months.

And we are predicting that this will create the biggest spike in demand for large scale additive manufacturing not only in 2022 but for many years to come.

Contact us if you would like to find out more about how our range of large scale additive manufacturing solutions can help your business.