3D printing now boasts costs and technology that’s allowing it to make an impact on chemical industry equipment and operations. Stefan Guertzgen, global senior director industry solution marketing and communications for chemicals, SAP, Newtown Square, Pa., points to three primary developments that are driving the adoption of the approach, which also is called additive manufacturing.
First is overall cost, which rapidly is decreasing because of less expensive raw materials, stronger competitive pressures and advances in technology. Then, too, the speed of the printing processes has increased. “In 2016, Carbon3D printed a palm-size geodesic sphere in a little over six minutes, which is 25 to 100 times faster than traditional 3D printing solutions,” Guertzgen notes. The third driver is the ability of new printers to accommodate a wider variety of materials.
The technology, which has been available for more than 30 years, now seems poised to realize its promise, he believes. “Early predictions were that 3D printers would be in every home by now, but widespread adoption of additive manufacturing had to wait for other areas to catch up, including materials science, engineering techniques, digital transformation in the supply chain and advances in the chemical industry. The future of 3D printing will be achievable when manufacturers put an increased focus on customer satisfaction, in addition to working with the chemical industry to invent innovative materials that satisfy unique customer requirements.”