7 Material Improvements Needed for Large-Scale Adoption of 3D Printing

| The Essentium Team

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Essentium recently sponsored its fourth annual Trends in 3D Printing at Scale Report, which surveyed more than 160 managers and executives with responsibility for additive manufacturing (AM) at scale. Participants were asked questions related to the present and future use of industrial 3D printing and their opinions on outcomes. Among these questions, participants were asked which obstacles hinder the wide-scale adoption of 3D printing. The results uncovered multiple desired material improvements. 

Desired 3D Printing Material Improvements 

When asked if 3D printing materials could be improved, 100% of manufacturing stakeholders said they wanted to see changes, with a desire for high-temperature, chemical, and fatigue resistant materials (44%) topping their lists. Other material improvements of note included materials that speed time-to-market (37%), materials that can be used on any machine (36%), materials designed specifically for industrial-scale production (34%), advanced materials for handling processes (31%), and more. 

These responses affirm Essentium’s approach to continuously push the boundaries and create solutions that accelerate the adoption of industrial 3D printing.  

1. High-Temperature, Chemical, and Fatigue Resistance

The top response to this survey question was increased availability for materials that have high-temperature, chemical, and fatigue resistance. Engineering-grade materials with these properties are crucial in extreme environments and even more important for pushing manufacturing innovation forward. 

 As a materials-first company, Essentium is constantly innovating material production. Most recently, Essentium launched Essentium PPS-CF, which is high-temperature, chemical, and solvent resistant, and is inherently flame retardant. 

2. Speed Time-to-Market Through High-Quality Parts

Using AM, manufacturers can print parts in hours, complete iterations in days, and be ready in weeks or faster. This time reduction allows manufacturers to get to market faster than competitors and save labor and lead time. However, without high-quality technology and materials, it isn’t possible to get a quality product to market at that pace. 

For industrial 3D printed parts, materials need to have an excellent surface finish without sacrificing material properties. Filaments like Essentium HTN-CF25Essentium PA-CF, and many others help Essentium customers get to market first. For example, Axle Box Innovations, a premiere technology development firm, recently manufactured parts for a drone platform using the Essentium High Speed Extrusion (HSE™) 3D Printing Platform and engineering materials. Axle Box was able to produce components that exceeded mechanical property expectations, for the lowest cost and fastest lead times when compared to competitors. 

3. Open-Source Materials

Vendor lock-in is an issue that has plagued the AM industry for decades. Once customers purchase a 3D printer, they are often required to use materials approved for that specific machine. This can limit material availability and increase the cost. As manufacturers realize the drawbacks to this system, they are starting to demand a different way. 

Since the beginning, Essentium has worked to remove those barriers by creating an open ecosystem around the HSE 3D Printing Platform. This system offers customers choices in material and gives them greater control over their innovations. 

4. Designed for Industrial-Scale Production

A large portion of materials in the 3D printing industry is designed for hobbyist 3D printers and prototyping. Though these filaments are widely accessible and low-cost, they don’t have the mechanical properties needed for industrial-scale production. 

Unlike many 3D printing companies, Essentium designs every 3D printing material for industrial-scale production. For example, Essentium HTN is an easy-to-print filament with an excellent surface finish without sacrificing strength or impact resistance properties, making it ready for industrial-scale production. 

5. Advanced Materials Handling Processes 

As more advanced filament becomes available to manufacturers, the need for advanced materials handling processes becomes critical, especially concerning material drying. Keeping materials dry not only extends the shelf life but also yields more consistent prints with better part quality. 

To give customers the best experience, Essentium offers Essentium’s DryBox™ – DB270 and Essentium’s DryBox™ – DB20+SmartBake. These material storage and drying systems help customers keep material for longer and maintain print consistency. 

6. Lower Material Costs

Cost reduction is a primary motivator for adopting 3D printing for large-scale production. In fact, 24% said lower production cost was an important business driver for the adoption of 3D printing. 

 Essentium strives to offer a range of materials that cater to manufacturers who are looking for industrial 3D printing material at every price point. For example, one of the lowest-cost materials is Essentium PCTG, an easy-to-use material with incredible surface finish, superior impact resistance, and chemical resistance. 

7. Sustainable Materials 

When we asked manufacturers how vital 3D printing will be to their sustainability initiatives, 100% said it is important.   

Essentium is advancing the world’s manufacturers by democratizing supply chain access to change the way we work. Through carbon footprint optimization, resource conservation, and chemical reduction Essentium is developing innovative additive manufacturing systems rooted in a commitment to high-quality, less resource-intensive technologies, and the promotion of safe and ethical operating standards.  

For a closer look at these findings, download Essentium’s 2021 Trends in 3D Printing at Scale report. 

Essentium, Inc. provides industrial 3D printing solutions that are disrupting traditional manufacturing processes by bringing product strength and production speed together, at scale, with a no-compromise engineering material set. Essentium manufactures and delivers innovative industrial 3D printers and materials enabling the world’s top manufacturers to bridge the gap between 3D printing and machining and embrace the future of additive manufacturing. 

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